Pendragon arrive late to last decade´s acoustic shows fashion with this “Acoustically Challenged”, recorded on stage at polish Radio 3 in 2001; anyway thanks to this Cd we can we can check how this classic band evolve playing songs in a different way. For this gig the musicians were Clive Nolan (keyboards), Peter Gee (guitars) and Nick Barrett (guitars and lead vocals), so there was no percussion (why?, are drums or percussions electric instruments?; and the keyboards?, are they acoustic?). It doesn´t matter. In short, a tranquil show where the audience enjoyed with ten tracks that we can also enjoy at home with an extra multimedia section.
The fist time I listened to this album I was amazed. A great package and a wonderful sound are guarantees of a good product. Perhaps I would have chosen other tracks, but.. The following day I took the Cd to my office; I listened to it again and my opinion remained the same. But, surprisingly a work mate wanted to listen to the Cd too (he´s not a prog fan but he likes classic music). When he gave me back the Cd told me: "I like the album but all the songs sound similar among them". Quickly I listened to the Cd and, from an objective point of view, I admitted he was right: the tracks sound similar. And that was because I made a mistake: I´ve listened to this Cd with the original songs in mind.
And it´s true.. the arrangements are not very versatile and the chosen tracks have similar structures, so, but for the vocal melodies, the listener can notice a certain similarity of arpeggios wrapped by strings arrangements or keyboards layers courtesy by Nolan. That´s no problem for any Pendragon or for those who know the music. But it´s a disadvantage for those who still don´t know Pendragon´s music.
As I told, the track list is good because we can pass throughout all Pendragon´s discography; there are classic old songs (“Alaska”), newer songs (“Man of Nomadic Traits”), rare tracks (“Fallen Dreams and Angels”), or unexpected songs (“2AM”). All the songs are played with high skill and passion. We can also listen to a nice cover of "Unspoken Words", from Peter Gee´s first solo album “Heart of David”. As a fan I think they should have included an Arena´s song ("Crying for Help", for instance). The multimedia section includes photos, notes, tour dates and an interesting interview with Barrett.
And that´s all the review. Only I would like to tinge the overall rating saying that if we are talking about Pendragon´s fans or people who know this music, “Acoustically Challenged” is a great Cd for them because they will listen to a newer side of this veteran band; but those who don´t know Pendragon´s music will have a wrong impression because this album doesn´t show the real energy of the band.