Exposé Online banner

Caamora — She
(Metal Mind MMP DVD 0132, 2008, DVD)

Caamora — She
(Metal Mind MASSCD1116DD, 2008, 22CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2008-10-01

She Cover artShe Cover art

Clive Nolan (Arena, Shadowlands, Pendragon, etc.) rarely does anything on a small scale, and elements of theatricality and drama have appeared in much of his past work so it seems only natural that he’d eventually tackle something on the scale of a West End musical. Caamora is the entity formed by Nolan and Polish singer Agnieszka Swita and She is their collaboration based on H. Rider Haggard’s book (also immortalized in a 1965 Hammer film Nolan saw as a boy). When I first heard about She I was dreading the results, though in all honesty this is one of Nolan’s finest moments and should find favor among fans of his other projects and bands. Musically, She includes material similar to the sort of symphonic prog-metal Nolan has favored throughout his career, though the many songs spanning the two disks also cover pop-rock (“Covenant of Faith,” “Shadows”), hard rock (“The Veil,” “Embrace the Fire”), orchestral pop (“Vigil,” “The Night Before”) plus purely orchestral numbers (“The Lost City”). Vocals play a larger part than in Nolan’s prog rock efforts, and for these duties Christina Booth (Magenta) and Alan Reed (Pallas) have been enlisted to help round out the cast. This could have been a problematic area for this project but credit should be given for fine performances all around. It helps that the songwriting is uniformly strong and I’m impressed by Nolan’s ability to wield potent melodic lines and graft them to hook-driven arrangements that make strong statements without overstaying their welcome – an ability he rarely demonstrates in his prog rock writing. Sure, there are moments when the bombast gets pushed, especially when the storyline climaxes on disk two, but when seen in context of the story arc these moments make sense. I’m not sure She is something I’d personally throw on regularly since this kind of Andrew Lloyd Weber-meets-Arena type of thing isn’t necessarily my cup of tea. But in terms of Clive Nolan’s long and prolific career, She has to be seen as a pinnacle accomplishment and has changed my mind about the scope of his talents and abilities. The companion DVD presents She in a stage production, performed at the Wyspianksi Theatre in Katowice, Poland on October 31, 2007. Ambitious is the best adjective to describe the undertaking, though that doesn’t necessarily mean it was a complete success. Musically everything that worked for the CD is still working here, with the star of the program Nolan’s marathon stable of well-written songs. Besides Nolan and Swita, Alan Reed and Christina Booth reprise their parts, aided by a choir who also appear on stage when dictated by the story (though I’m pretty sure that at least some of the DVD soundtrack is studio overdubs). Finally, a sizeable live band (bass, two guitars, drums, two keyboardists, oboe, horn, and cello) consume significant real estate on the Wyspianksi’s small stage, giving the actors only the front and back plus a narrow space between the two halves of the band to perform with. They make the best of it, though this is the production’s weak link and where the troupe’s lack of experience is revealed. Swita has a natural grasp of performing on stage and Reed holds his own, though Booth and Nolan seem to be improvising much of the time and some direction would have helped. This is especially the case during key scenes that for some reason take place at the rear of the stage that, lacking strong lighting and obscured by all the musicians, could not have been easy for some in the audience to see. Other technical weaknesses (wardrobe, make-up, rear-screen visuals, etc.) were no doubt a result of budgetary restrictions and I can cut the production some slack, though if they do plan on taking this show on the road to South America, as is planned at the time of this writing, some further work in these areas won’t go unrewarded. This is a show with potential, simply because the music is stronger than half of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s recent work. If the stage performances and production values can be brought on par who knows where it will end up?


Filed under: New releases, Issue 36, 2008 releases

Related artist(s): Caamora, Clive Nolan

Latest news

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Yeti Rain - Nest of Storms – Subverted expectations are always a refreshing experience in music. In the case of bassist William Kopecky and sax artist Roger Ebner, the subversion is expected. Nest of Storms opens with “Aa,” a...  (2009) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues