Promising Welsh melodic prog rock band The Mighty Ra have followed up on their well-received debut album, last summer’s All Secrets Known, with a live album of their very first gig! Recorded at the second Prog For Peart Festival in Abingdon on 1st July 2022 – only a month on from the release of the studio album – Live Secrets delivers vibrant, cohesive and powerful versions of six of the eight songs on that album.
It is a testament to the professionalism and ability of these consummate and experienced musicians that you would never have thought that this was the first time they were appearing together on a live stage.
All Secrets Known kicks off proceedings with the warm, rich and atmospheric spoken introduction of Les Penning, played over Rob Wilsher’s lush synthesisers, before the rest of the group join in. Confident and soaring guitar lines from Andy Edwards mingle with hypnotic piano lines, before Andy’s plaintive vocals, Dave Rowe’s deep and resonating bass (including some bowed contributions) and Rob Griffith’s dynamic drums gradually build up the dramatic soundscape.
The beauty of a quality live recording from any group is that whilst some of the studio subtleties are understandably reduced here and there, together with a touch less separation between the instruments, the raw power of the musicians playing in synch on a stage is enhanced. With Rob’s expressive keyboards and Andy’s guitar more up-front in the mix, the songs still have complexity and sparkle, but with that added oomph – despite staying remarkably true to the original studio versions.
Andy’s opening guitar riffs on Nothing Comes Too Easy are powerful, and this track especially benefits from the live setting. Dave and Rob build-up a powerful, churning Rush-like rhythm whilst Rob’s Magnum-style keyboard chords lift everything to a higher level.
The band forego Liberta, the idiosyncratic and Morricone-inspired introduction to the western-themed Freedom, and dive straight into the galloping beat of the La Fuga theme, providing another opportunity for Andy and Rob’s guitar and keyboard interplay to shine through.
Seven Days and Rain are well-received slabs of classic melodic hard rock, with Rob’s driving drumming, Dave’s bubbling bass and more excellent guitar soloing. Andy’s vocals hold-up well given how busy he is on the fretboard. The catchy chorus of the former is memorable, whilst the focused thrust of the latter stops the live musical intensity getting too ragged.
The highlight of the show is undoubtedly the epic Bigger Lie which closes the short set with majestic power. Dave’s diatribe against organised religion and conspiracy theories starts with the same spoken word snippets as on the original version, before the Pink Floyd-inspired musical soundscape develops fully. Dave’s higher register backing vocals add a frantic, unsettling feel to Andy’s lead vocals and there are enough Gilmour, Wright and Waters musical references to please the knowledgeable audience – through to the strident chorus and refrain of “We need a bigger lie!” The warm applause at the end is well deserved – this band can really cut it live.
Whilst undoubtedly an important landmark live recording for existing fans to treasure and savour, Live Secrets is also strong enough to stand up on its own merits and be enjoyed by anyone wanting to explore this band for the first time and get a feel for how they perform on stage. It is now available as a Bandcamp download at a bargain price. With more live appearances planned in future – not least at this year’s Winter’s End festival in Chepstow this April – and no doubt more studio activity to follow, it’s never too late to climb aboard their musical journey.
01. All Secrets Known (8:38)
02. Nothing Comes Too Easy (5:42)
03. Freedom (5:36)
04. Seven Days (6:38)
05. Rain (4:19)
06. Bigger Lie (12:45)
Total Time – 43:38
Andy Edwards – Guitar, Vocals
Dave Rowe – Bass Guitar, Vocals
Rob Griffiths – Drums, Percussion
Rob Wilsher – Keyboards
Record Label: White Knight Records / Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 3rd February 2023
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