The Enid Leeds Holy Trinity Church 6th March 2015

The Enid Leeds Holy Trinity Church 6th March 2015
the-enid-leeds-ticket-exampleThe Enid are truly back, ignoring their critics (as always), and playing their own brand of symphonic prog-rock in the way that only they can. But this time the critics are unanimous in their praise:
“The Enid have reaffirmed their place among the pantheon of Prog Gods” (Rachel Mann, Prog Magazine).
“The quintessentially English prog group” (Tim Jones, Record Collector Magazine).
“The most majestic rock band of all time” (Band On The Wall).
Enid founder Robert John Godfrey has assembled a new line-up which rivals all previous incarnations of the band. The musician is, without exception, superb and, in Joe Payne, they have discovered a front man who is simply astounding in his stage-craft, performance and vocal ability. They have recently completed a new album, “The Bridge”, which they are touring with at the moment. Robert John Godfrey calls “The Bridge” a “musical allegory” and says of it: “Bridging the gap between the arts and entertainment; the shallow and the deep; the brash and the sensitive. A place where history meets the future. A plea for open mindedness, tolerance and natural justice at a time when the world is sleep walking into the unknowable.”
Last night I went to see The Enid perform their “Bridge” show in Holy Trinity Church Leeds. The show was sold-out and the venue was perfect; Holy Trinity is an active Georgian church in the centre of Leeds. I drove down to Leeds and arrived around 7.30pm, the show was due to start at 8pm. The church was already full and I found myself a seat in a pew towards the back, making sure I had a clear view through the pillars.
Singer Joe Payne says of the new tour concept: “When we first discussed making an album of classical music, I insisted we perform this music exclusively in intimate seated venues. I grew up in the theatre, and hadn’t had much of a rock background before meeting The Enid. So I was determined to re-explore my roots and put on a really extravagant show….The set list must tell a story. The show must run seamlessly. No more ‘now we’re going to play this one, and then we’re going to play that one’. There will certainly be pieces from across The Enid’s back catalogue, but ultimately art must trump nostalgia. These shows will be our most ambitious since the Salome Ballet in the 1980s!”
The concert started in darkness with a grainy screen, mimicking the opening of a 1950s cinema newsreel, and with the traditional Enid anthem “Land of Hope and Glory” (ah, memories of the Reading festival and previous Enid triumphs). Then a video of Joe Payne, dressed as our vintage monarch, delivers a message “We are One. We Can Take It. We are One. We are Many” to her people. Godfrey opens “One and the Many” with quiet, exquisite piano, and then, creeping out of the darkness, appears a hooded Joe Payne; singing as he walks from the back of the church, in the highest, scariest yet sweetest soprano voice. I can’t describe how powerful this opening was.
enidThe mood was set for the rest of the evening. The performance was stunning, outstanding, mesmerizing. Each song “bridged” to the next with a short (semi-political) video, displayed on the multi-media screen behind the band. The visuals were superb, perfectly complementing the performance. So many influences came through; classical, prog-rock, Eastern, opera, church choirs, musical theatre, early-Genesis; yet the music is of its own. Concept pieces like this often come over as contrived and pretentious, and thus ultimately fail; this one doesn’t; it succeeds on every level. The Enid have created a show which exceeds all the superlatives that have been written about it, and lives up to the hype. In a couple of years they have gone from playing to a handful of people to selling out venues of a few hundred. I heard one guy say that he had flown from France for the show. Another said that he has seen the Enid three years ago at Leeds Irish Centre and that there were around 6 people in the audience.
At the end of the performance the audience stood and gave Godfrey and his creation thunderous applause, which lasted for several minutes. The encore was “In the Region of the Summer Stars” from their debut album.
I don’t recall exactly when I last saw the Enid. It was probably in the mid-’70s at either Newcastle Mayfair or the Reading festival, where they became big favourites. At that time they played all instrumentals. The Enid of today is a very different animal. I don’t think I have ever seen a band re-emerge in such a strong and perfect way.
The concert finished around 10.45pm. I drove home up a windy A1 and A19; back home around 12.30am.
The Enid are: Robert John Godfrey (keyboards), Joe Payne (vocals), Max Read (guitar, bass), Dave Storey (drums, percussion), Jason Ducker (guitar) and Dominic Tofield (bass, percussion, guitar).
Act I: Land of Hope and Glory; One and the Many; Terra Firma; Earthborn; Witch Hunt; Space Surfing; Malacandra; Dark Hydraulic
Act II: Wings; Something Wicked This Way Comes; Execution Mob; Leviticus; Someone Shall Rise; Judgement; Shiva
Encore: In the Region of the Summer Stars.
One of the best performances I have seen by any band in many, many years.

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