Nektar - Journey To The Other Side

Nektar – Journey To The Other Side

After being unexpectedly floored by my first listen to Recycled, I seem to have precariously placed myself as the Nektar correspondent at TPA… at least for the time being. Jumping from the band’s heyday straight into the present was probably not the most advisable idea, however Journey to the Other Side – a portmanteau of the group’s oldest and newest album titles – is an extremely long and uneven slab of music from the ageing rockers; while there is still passion for the music, the cracks in the foundations are beginning to show.

A tasteful keyboard intro titled The Light Beyond plays on tape as the group enter the stage. They kick things off with a crowd-pleasing rendition of their epic A Tab in the Ocean, and the group seem to be in top form. Afterwards, however, came a 47-minute slew of songs I simply wasn’t familiar with, some decent, some downright awful.

The offending numbers seemed to mainly originate from the group’s latest album, The Other Side. Impressively, the group managed to fit six of the album’s eight songs into their set – I wonder how many fans were actually clamouring to hear all this new material played live. After the pyrotechnics of A Tab in the Ocean, the band introduced The Other Side with the bland, plodding Skywriter, creating a stark, palpable contrast in the band’s compositional capabilities. While it sounds cliché to say that a band simply can’t compete with their classic material decades later – and it’s certainly not true of every group – it’s sadly true here. I yawned my way through most of this concert as I waited for the good stuff.

After the pixelated 2007 footage of Stackridge on The Forbidden City, it was refreshing to have some crisp HD footage of the group that prides themselves on their live visuals, although I can’t say the camera work was too much better. One static camera from the back of the theatre captures most of the action while a few handheld cameras provide alternative shots from just below the stage and occasionally from behind; I would have appreciated a drum cam as well, but that’s just me. Sometimes, a wide shot shows the full theatre in its entirety and you realise just how small the venue is; I don’t think it could hold more than a few hundred people. Mick Brockett has been reinstated to do the group’s lightshow but unfortunately no longer uses his analogue tools. Instead we see a rather regular looking video projection that has a few hokey effects which look more like a Windows screensaver. For a good twelve minutes of the band’s set, part of the projector feed goes offline and we’re left with the default colour bars that take away from the atmosphere.


The line-up was fascinating to me. Roye Albrighton passed away in 2016 and has been replaced by Ryche Chlanda who briefly played with the group previously in 1978. Chlanda was also one of the core members of the ‘70s American progressive group Fireballet who are infamous for having one of the worst album covers of all time. Go on, look it up. He does a serviceable job on these songs and has better live vocals than Albrighton – whom I’ve heard on the band’s live ’70s recordings – but doesn’t have all of his energy on the guitar. Maryann Castello provides backing vocals and occasionally changes the sheet music on the musicians’ iPads but otherwise does very little, awkwardly standing at the back and swaying with the music. I kind of feel sorry for her.


The set is dedicated to Ron Howden, the drummer and founding member of the group who played with the group through most of its incarnations and who tragically passed away just three months after this set was recorded. Here, he keeps excellent time and provides surprisingly decent vocals, even hitting some high notes. I never realised he was such an integral part of the band’s sound and this live recording is a fantastic highlight for him to bow out on.


Derek Moore proudly boasts a Recycled shirt for the performance and I would have been disappointed if the group had not played some of that fine album, having just become familiar with it. In fact, the band played the entire second side, which felt like a true blessing. Like always, I bopped my head to São Paulo Sunrise and sang along to Marvellous Moses. To my surprise, Ron Howden was responsible for singing the closing part It’s All Over and did a superb job.

Shortly after, the band give the audience another treat, and easily the highlight of the evening… the entire Remember the Future suite! As 2023 was the fiftieth anniversary, I suppose it was only right that the band did the album justice. I can’t pretend that this live version holds a candle to the studio original but it’s good to be able to hear this new line-up give the full thing a run-through. The more I listen to it, the more I’m convinced that it’s a truly fantastic suite.

Three largely forgettable songs form the encore and then we are also treated to the two-song soundcheck which was an exclusive for VIP ticket holders. Nektar have now been playing for over two and a half hours which is an extraordinary amount of time for a group of septuagenarians to be on stage. Bizarrely, the video fades to black between each song which suggests the passage of even more time between numbers.


There are bands that are snuffed out well before their time and bands that continue persist well after the magic has faded, for better or for worse. I don’t begrudge these musicians their willingness to continue and keep the Nektar name alive, but fans certainly need to temper their expectations. This is not an ultra fancy production but it is an accurate representation of a group that has crossed the half-century mark and chooses not to give up. The most interesting part of this set for myself was the introduction to Ryche Chlanda (would love to learn how that’s pronounced) and learning about his history in 70s prog rock. Perhaps Fireballet will be my next excursion into the past.

01. Introduction (0:39)
02. The Light Beyond (1:44)
03. A Tab in the Ocean (15:43)
04. Skywriter (7:25)
05. I’m on Fire (7:58)
06. Dream Nebula (6:29)
07. Drifting (9:04)
08. Cast Your Fate (5:12)
09. A Day in the Life of a Preacher (11:05)
10. Recycled 2 (17:41)
11. Show Me the Way (5:30)
12. Remember the Future, Part 1 (16:17)
13. Remember the Future, Part 2 (20:26)
14. Look Thru Me (7:23)
15. Fidgety Queen (5:05)
16. Good Day (6:47)
17. Devil’s Door/King of Twilight (13:08) (Download and Blu-ray only)

Time – 157:27 [CD]
Time – 159:23 [Blu-ray]
[CD track listing and times differ due to time constraints]

Derek “Mo” Moore – Bass, Vocals
Ron Howden – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Ryche Chlanda – Guitars, Vocals
Kendall Scott – Keyboards, Synths
Randy Dembo – Bass, 12-String Guitar, Taurus Pedals
Maryann Castello – Background Gocals

Record Label: Deko Entertainment
Catalogue#: DEKO1132-3
Country of Origin: U.K. | U.S.A.
Date of Release: 26th April 2024

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