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THE ENID Robin 2, Bilston 15 October 2009

The Enid, photo by Lee Millward
Photo by Lee Millward

After an extended absence from the music scene, broken only by a few unconvincing and subsequently abandoned revival attempts, The Enid is back on the road.

And, if last Thursday’s performance at the Robin 2 in Bilston is any indicator, they are preparing to reclaim their place among progressive rock’s finest.

This is The Enid as their loyal fans remember them, with Robert John Godfrey leading firmly from the front. The latest incarnation shows much more confident Robert than in recent years, clearly enjoying the experience of performing and working with new band members and new material.

The set mainly comprised music from The Enid’s latest release, the aptly titled Arise and Shine, a showcase for both new material and reworkings of Enid classics performed by the new line up.

Well, not so new, perhaps; both Max Read on keys and vocals and Dave Storey on drums are well established Enid members and performed faultlessly, as they have done for many years.

The Enid, photo by Lee Millward
Photo by Lee Millward

Jason Ducker is the new boy and while he currently lacks Stephen Stewart’s stage presence and Nick May’s sense of adventure, he could possibly be the guitarist that understands Robert John Godfrey’s vision for The Enid more than any of his predecessors.

Dark Hydraulic Forces of the Id built beautifully before Ducker launched into the killer riff that introduces the song’s finale, playing with great sensitivity, yet with no lack of power.

Sheets from the Blue Yonder was one of the outstanding performances of the evening, again largely due to Ducker’s sensitive approach which was also a feature of Chaldean Crossing.

These less frenetic songs suited the venue best – at times some of the subtleties of the music were lost in the mix, particularly in the new material which its grand soundscapes.

The Enid, photo by Lee Millward
Photo by Lee Millward

Sections of In the Region of Summer Stars also suffered from sounds competing with rather than complementing each other, something that should not present a problem in larger venues.

Perhaps the highlight of this show was the revised Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, sounding as fresh and exciting as it did all those many years ago.

Award for the hardest working member of the band has to go to Nicholas Willes, drafted in to perform bass and percussion duties, constantly switching from one to the other, often looking as though he had hit the right beat more by luck than judgement, but never failing to miss a cue.

Willes’ timpani playing in particular gave the songs a new sense of urgency. An immaculately played Something Wicked This Way Comes formed the encore, Robert John Godfrey taking the lead vocal in his inimitable style and rounding of a successful evening, albeit played out in front of a disappointingly small audience.

Robert announced the now confirmed gig at Birmingham Town Hall in April, the centrepiece of which will be a large scale performance of Fand and tantalisingly played the beginning of The Lovers on solo piano, promising to learn it for that concert.

Given the new impetus to perform and record material (including rerecording the band’s back catalogue over the next five years), this could be a very interesting time ahead for those who have waited so long for the return of The Enid.

Review by Mark Jones

Photos by Lee Millward

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