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Haze - 30th Anniversary Shows CD (album) cover





4.98 | 5 ratings

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Symphonic Team
5 stars The edge of heaven

As the title of this live album implies, Haze has been around for more than 30 years. Formed in 1978, Haze released their debut LP in 1984 and went on to release another two studio LPs before the end of the 80's. In the 90's the two McMahon brothers continued on without Paul Chisnell under the name World Turtle. This present double live album is a career-spanning tour the force featuring most of the best songs by the band. Indeed, it functions very well as a kind of best off album performed live. In all cases these live versions are improvements over their studio counterparts.

As it says in the booklet, most of the material featured here was recorded in Sheffield on the 1st of June 2008 and the running order of the album is a correct representation of the actual set list of that show with only one song (Seven Stones) added that was not played that night. This is just how good live albums should be, representing the concert as it actually was performed on the night (though I don't know how it actually sounded live). It's a good thing they added Seven Stones though, as it is one of the band's best ever songs evoking classic Genesis.

The set list features songs from all three of the band's 80's studio LPs as well as the two World Turtle albums. There are also several brand new Haze songs that will appear on the upcoming new studio album that will finally be released in March 2013. In addition, there are here also one song by Chris McMahon's Folk Rock group Treebeard. It is fair to say that this live album gives a very good overview of the long career of Haze and its members.

The sound of Haze is an appealing mix of Psychedelic Prog, Prog Folk, Heavy Prog, and touches of Symphonic/Neo-Prog as well as Crossover Prog. The new songs clearly have a strong Folk direction and we can expect the upcoming new Haze album to be more Prog Folk than anything else (which I'm sure that I will love!).

The line up features the bothers Paul and Chris McMahon on (primarily) guitars and keyboards respectively and who, if I'm correctly informed, are the founders and leaders of the band as well as drummer Paul Chisnell. These three people form the core of the band, but they also have some guest performers here in Ceri Ashton on flute, and a couple of others. The flutes are particularly brilliant and give the music a lovely Camel-feel at times.

The first disc opens with a short Intro that adds little to the proceedings. Turn Around is rather raw and gritty song that at first made me worried about what was coming next. But the following two tracks, the very old Mirage and the very new Over The River quickly diminished that worry; the former with its swirling synthesisers and heavy guitars and the latter with its excellent flute and piano. 4 Real is another one of the new songs. And another excellent song on the first disc is The Edge Of Heaven, this song originally appeared on the first World Turtle album. There are however also a couple of comparatively weaker numbers on the first disc. While by no means bad, Another Country is a rather straight-forward rocker that reminds me a bit of Asia with its catchy chorus and fanfare-like keyboards and Autumn is a Blues Rock number. Also Let Go is one of the less good songs.

The second disc is overall stronger and more coherent that the first disc. There is not one weak moment to be found here! It opens with a short electric Folk instrumental called Hitchhiking that leads straight into the symphonic Ophelia. Dragonfly is yet another of the new songs, this one was written during the rehearsals for the concert and it is a great one! The Barrister & The Bargast too is a new song, and great as well. A Firkin Of Mead is an old but absolutely lovely acoustic number that brings diversity and a chance to catch your breath between the onslaught of the rest. For me the album closes perfectly with the superb Last Orders and I usually ignore the unnecessary cover of Comfortably Numb. There was really no need to perform a cover song as the band has so much great original material.

Haze is a very overlooked and underrated band that deserves much more attention and this live album is their best release and thus a perfect place to discover them. I liked this from the start, but it has grown on me further since I first discovered it and raised my rating from four to five stars.

Very highly recommended!

SouthSideoftheSky | 5/5 |


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