If Alan Parsons had never performed, he would still be highly acclaimed in the music world for his work on both ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, yet with Eric Woolfson he created Alan Parsons Project whose early albums are wonderful. After Woolfson left, he changed the name of releases just to Alan Parsons and put out three albums in the Nineties and another in 2004. There was then a long gap, but over the last few years there has been a flurry of activity with a new album, ‘The Secret’, in 2019 as well as a new one in 2022, ‘From The New World’, and some touring which has resulted in at least two live albums. The first of them is this one, which was recorded live on May 5th, 2019, and showcases the performance of the Alan Parsons Live Project at the Tivoli in Utrecht, Netherlands.
To me, Alan’s works have always been less of a band and far more of a revolving series of session musicians, some of whom have stayed longer than others, but it worked well for Steely Dan and one advantage is that he is always able to pick and choose who he wants to work with. This leads to a very high level of musicianship, and with many of the people in this band playing on the most recent studio release (only P.J. Olsson was there for 2004’s ‘A Valid Path’) this comes across as a very polished performance indeed. Given it was recorded on the last night of this tour they all have their vocal harmonies and tightness sorted out (and given Parsons is a master producer I am sure he could have fixed it in the mix anyway), but in many ways it just feels too clean. There are nine people in the band, and they all sing, with the result being very clever indeed, but there is also a lack of live energy as they are doing their very best to replicate what took place in the studio and somehow missing the angst at the same time. I was thoroughly looking forward to hearing “(The System of) Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether” which comes near the end, as that has always been one of my favourite tracks, but I could have just played the original from ‘Tales Of Mystery And Imagination’.
There is no doubt that Parsons is very clever indeed at what he does, and that this album will delight a great many fans, but it is just too clean and there is not enough sweat and live fun for me. That being said, it still must be rated highly as there is no doubt it is has captured an excellent performance, but I am not the desired audience.