I got to answer my own questions this weekend, as I was able to attend the Alan Parsons Live Project concert Friday night in Eugene. They performed with 35 members of the Eugene Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Larry Baird, who has directed orchestras for the Moody Blues and a number of other big rock acts.
Two different and fortuitous circumstances combined to make this a special evening for me. First was the weather; this concert was originally slated for Cuthbert Amphitheatre, an outdoor venue in Eugene that I particularly dislike, so I wasn't going to go. Thursday afternoon the weather got stormy and Parsons, perfectionist that he is, requested that the concert be moved inside to the Hult Center, a very fine auditorium with great acoustics. As soon as I heard that, I knew I had to go.
I talked to my wife as soon as she got home and she was happy to go (she indulges my music tastes) but we were off to a small party before I could call for tickets. When we got home I switched on the Thursday night classical show on KRVM and Arturo the DJ was giving away tickets to the 3rd caller! I called and was the first caller - darn! Called back and was the second caller - Arturo told me to give someone else a chance. Called again and was the third caller - guess no one else was listening! What could he do? The tickets were mine, which was fabulous since they were $43/ea and I'm currently, ahem, "between jobs". :-)
The concert went off about 40 minutes late because they were tweaking right up to the last minute due to the venue change. It was completely worth the wait, though, as he opened with Eye in the Sky and kept the pedal to the metal for the entire show. Parsons doesn't really play much, but he's clearly the mastermind and his touring band is pretty incredible.
Especially impressive were Godfrey Townsend on guitar, able to channel both David Gilmour and Eric Clapton as necessary, and making some of the best lead guitar faces I've ever seen. Steve Murphy on drums was not only very talented with the sticks but possesses an incredible voice, evident on Breakdown and Psychobabble. He can also flip his long blond hair with the best of them.
The addition of the orchestra really fills out the sound on certain tracks, and they had the lead on some numbers, such as We Play the Game from his new album, A Valid Path. After the show the orchestra had looks on their faces like "What just happened here?" but did a great job and, being our local classical jocks, got a huge ovation.
According to the AP web site, he'll be back out on tour late this year including some US dates in early 2007. If you love his music like I do, find a way to go. You won't be disappointed.