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The Assembly, Leamington 12 December 2009

Pendragon, photo by Andrew Lock
Photo: Andrew Lock

The famous Pendragon Xmas show lived up to all expectations on its first outing at The Assembly on Saturday 12th December.

The evening started with a set by the highly regarded German progressive rock outfit Sylvan, a band with a great sound combining both great power and at times a melodic delicate touch.

Sylvan, photo by Andrew Lock
Photo: Andrew Lock

The band released their first album in 1999 called Deliverance and so far have released seven studio albums, the latest being Force of Gravity. Their set included tracks from the new album including the stirring title track which opened the set and the multi-layered Vapour Trail and amongst the older material played I particularly enjoyed the tender The Colours Changed and brooding rock of One Step Beyond.

Lead vocalist Marco Gluhmann has both a fantastic voice and very good stage presence and the whole band impressed me, I especially liked a lot of the lead guitar work which for me had a few echoes of Marillion's Steve Rothery (never a bad thing in my book).

Pendragon, photo by Andrew Lock
Photo: Andrew Lock

Pendragon kept to their word and gave us a three hour plus set with the first half taken up with a run through of their latest highly acclaimed album Pure, which has a slightly heavier sound than some of their earlier releases but still full of that distinctive Pendragon light and shade we all love.

They performed Pure in album order so after the atmospheric intro tape it was straight into opening track Indigo followed by the up-tempo Eraserhead. 

Next it was time for the first epic of the night the three part masterpiece Comatose, the power of the out and out rocker The Freak Show and to close the gentle and moving It's Only Me.

Pendragon, photo by Andrew Lock
Photo: Andrew Lock

After a small break the band returned and played another complete show full of highlights and suprises from their earlier works. This was a night of fantastic progressive rock music and a band right at the top of their game with the exquisite guitar work of Nick Barrett just one of the key ingredients.

The delights in the second set included The Last Man on Earth from The Window of Life Album, the beautiful and emotional Paintbox from The Masquerade Overture and from the same album the stunning The Shadow.

The set included material from a wide selection of their albums including three tracks from their debut album The Jewel Oh Divineo the rarely played rocker The Black Knight and Leviathan.

Pendragon, photo by Andrew Lock
Photo: Andrew Lock

They also dipped in to the pre Pure studio album Believe with Learning Curve and played tracks from both the Not of this world and Kowtow albums. The sound the band produce is breathtaking at times with solid bass and drums from Peter Gee and Scott Higham respectively, layers of keyboard magic supplied by Clive Nolan and of course some of the finest lead guitar in the land from Nick who also handles lead vocals.

First encore and possibly a lot of fans favourite track the epic Masters of Illusion a cracking bouncing ball of a song with a fabulous guitar solo towards the end.

Real fun for the 2nd encores with the rarely played 80's rocker Red Shoes and to close, this of course being the festive season, a fun version of Fairytale of New York with help from guest vocalist Tina from the band Magenta.

The band as promised had arranged for the bar to stay open for a while after the gig and came out and chatted and signed for about an hour, talking to them I think they enjoyed the night as much as we did.

Verdict - A great early Christmas present

Review and photos by Andrew Lock

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