The Room – Live @ The Robin 2.
Reviewer: Rob Birtey
I guess its no secret that I’m an old Proggie at heart and I make no apologies about that. The Room formed in 2010 by Martin Wilson and Steve Anderson and based in London / South east are a contemporary Progressive Rock band that write songs with huge Melodic hooks. I have both of their excellent albums (bought and paid for) and I reviewed the last album â€˜Beyond The Gates Of Bedlam for Firebrand giving it 9/10 if memory serves. One thing I have been unable to do was catch the band live. Its been one of those things clashes of dates etc. and it still left me with that old time burning question. Yes the band is Great on album but just how good are they in the flesh? Luckily for me their new live DVD was sent for my perusal so at last I could answer that question. For those of you who for the past 7 years have been under some huge rock, held at Her Majestys Pleasure or were in a coma I’d describe their sound as a mix that includes the haunting strains and vocals of Saga, the English sensibilities of early Marillion and the passion of Pendragon topped off with AOR overlay of Magnum and you just about have it.
The DVD begins traditionally with the Spinal Tap like journey to the stage. The first four songs are all off the debut album Open Fire and then you get a full recital of second album â€˜Beyond The Gates Of Bedlam rounding off with a further 3 track from Open Fire and the extra of a backstage interview. So you see you don’t get short changed on this one. Now the scene is set lets get down to business. The House lights dim. You can feel the electricity in the venue. Drummer Chris York marks time with his sticks and Singer Martin Wilson says a hearty Good Evening before launching into a stunning version of Flesh And Bone you know this is going to be very special. There is an epic scale in all the bands music one of the reasons I suppose they remind me so much of Saga but it is still so good that it comes across in an intimate venue like the Robin 2 as well as it would in an arena. This flows into the sumptuous guitar and keyboard opening of Casual Believer a song that reminds me of Chelsea Monday in many ways. Next up is A Multitude Of Angels which could sit very comfortably in the Saga back catalogue containing guitar flashes Steve Rothery would be proud of. The fourth song and one of my personal favourites is Screaming Through The Noise The introduction from Martin is very low key. Surprising in some ways as I know this was released as a Charity single for The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust and is a very personal story for the band. It was also the first track I heard by them and it still stirs me deeply to this day. This live version well packs an even bigger punch. Martins emotional tour-de-force vocal rocks you back like a Tyson punch to the ribs, in short its just sensational. This Prog Feast continues with the recital of the bands last album Beyond The Gates Of Bedlam and the lead-off single Carrie. Beginning with guitar and hi-hats like an English Mind Crime a subtle bass line winds in and the rest of the ensemble let rip. Next up is Full Circle is about a bleak decent into an emotional black-hole and the struggle to climb your way out. Framed in an arrangement that takes you back to slower parts of The Lamb it just sums up all those moments in your life when all you want to do is press the reset button. This live version just packs so much power each note sizzles. Song 7 Crazy As It Seems is a personal statement in the sense its a song inspired by a long standing friend of the band Hughie McMillan but its also a song about friendship in general.
Musically its the Melodic Ballad of the band and feature a delicate interplay of guitar and keys, and is another moment The Room remind you even in its simplicity just what masters of the genre they are. She Smiles is one of my favourite tracks off the last album. Live the band do it more than justice. The song pitched somewhere between Marillion and Genesis, reverberating love lost and found but never having the nerve to regain a relationship and clinging onto dreams of yesterday. The theme explored in Kayleigh chimes so true and is one of the DVDs many highlights. Splinter is about the slow and bitter lingering demise of love. Keyboard to the fore and its also the Melodic Rocker of the piece. Part of the lyrics is Tell me the Truth this live version rings so TRUE it thunders like Big Ben in the set. Bedlam is the last track of the latest album and is a full force Rocker.
House lights go down and searchlights prowl the stage as sirens echo out. It also has the obligatory Prog amateur dramatic interlude having an origin dating back to Peter Gabriel and all done in the best possible taste. Drummer Chris York playing a demented preacher with great effect. The encore consists of 3 more fine tracks from the debut album. The first being Behind The Silence tastefully done being a two hander between singer Martin Wilson and Steve Checkley on keyboards. Next up is the stirring 16 Tonnes featuring the band female backing chorus The Roomettes along with some hearty crowd participation. The night closes with ICU a dark tale that draws on elements of Operation Mind Crime and Silent Knight to conjure a brand of Prog all its very own, and like all Great acts leaves you wanting more. The extras interview with the band is an informative and light hearted insight into the bands history and personnel and also were the band see themselves standing in the wide spectrum of Rock. It also gives an insight into the bands creative process as well.
To sum up. You may well have noticed I have said very little about how the DVD was shot. Which speaks volumes for the music and the power of the performance. That is because the film makers have caught the moments you’d want to see, scenes that would be drawn into your eye-line if you were at the gig to perfection making it a totally realistic and immersive experience. The sound quality truly captures a Brilliant band performing at the height of their powers. All in all, it’s a must own and something you will not tire of watching again and again. Totally underlining the fact, I need to get up close and personal with this band and watch them in the flesh and so do you.
A BooStar DVD Video Production:
Skooch Media Website:
https://www.theroom.eu/ Release date: Available Now.
Highlight moments: Screaming Through The Noise/ Full Circle / Splinter / She Smiles