The career paths of bands with long and rich histories are akin to fingerprints; no two are identical. No such statement could be more appropriately applicable than to the forty-four year career of British progressive rock pioneers Renaissance.
The band, acclaimed for their unique blending of progressive rock with classical and symphonic influences, can trace its’ origins back to 1969 when theYardbirds disbanded, founding members, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty began to organize a new group devoted to the experimentation between rock, folk, and classical forms.
This quintet; Relf on guitar & vocals, McCarty on drums, plus bassist Louis Cennamo, pianist John Hawken, and Relf’s sister Jane as an additional vocalist, released a pair of ground breaking albums on Elektra and Island, but when touring began to grind on them, the band gradually dissolved one by one.
Renaissance underwent several incarnations until 1971 when vocalist Annie Haslam, joined guitarist/composer Michael Dunford and John Tout, Neil Korner, Terry Crowe and Terry Slade. Several line-ups ensued until in 1973 Terence Sullivan and Jon Camp joined propelling the band into the realm of successful world-class recording and touring status.
After extensively touring and critical acclaim in the UK, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, France, Belgium, Portugal and Israel, influential rock stations in the US picked up on the band’s unique sound and introduced them to welcoming American audiences.
The band spent years touring, recorded fifteen albums while gracing distinguished stages, from Carnegie Hall with The New York Philharmonic to the Royal Albert Hall in London with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestras.
Despite explorations into solo careers, and changes in the line-up over the years, the five octave voice of Annie Haslam and brilliant songwriting/musicianship of Michael Dunford remained the core of Renaissance.
In 2009 Haslam and Dunford reunited for a special 40th Anniversary concert tour which would not only serve to reconnect them to long time fans, but also introduce a younger generation of progressive music fans to the lush, orchestral favorites that made them a staple of 1970's progressive rock radio.
The new incarnation of Renaissance was so well received by eager fans with standing ovations that they decided to carry on with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and purpose.
Ms. Haslam recently commented, “The ‘live’ concert experience is so true to the original albums, with the technological advances in instrumentation, and the very talented new band members, we have been able to recreate the sounds and musical atmosphere of the original recordings.
To give the fans a very special concert experience it was decided that the program for the North American tour of 2011 would be the performance of the band’s two most popular albums back to back in their entirety; ‘Turn of the Cards’ and ‘Scheherazade and Other Stories’.
The massive musical undertaking was well worth the effort as tickets for the tour quickly sold out. To expand the concept for fans globally and outside of touring markets, the decision was made to film and record the show at the prestigious Keswick Theater. Renaissance had never been properly filmed in concert before. A two CD/DVD box set was created (artwork by the multi-talented Ms. Haslam) and sold only through the band’s own website. The package, released just prior to Christmas 2011 was a tremendous success, after which the band began to compose material for their first studio album in over a decade.