This album was recorded on Nektar’s ‘Up Close and Intimate’ Tour of North America and focuses on new and classic Nektar tracks spanning their 50-year career. Recorded at their sell-out show on March 7th , 2020, it was also filmed, and both versions are available to download from their website. Drummer Ron Howden (bass, vocals) and Mick Brockett (special effects) were all in the band for the most important part of their career (1969-1977) while Ryche Chlanda (guitars, vocals) was in the band in the late Seventies, Randy Dembo (bass, 12-string guitar) was in the band in the early 2000’s and it is only keyboard player Kendall Scott who is the “new boy”. There is another version of Nektar touring Germany, based around keyboard player Klaus Henatsch, but to my mind this is the genuine article. Of course, can it ever be Nektar without Roye Albrighton who died in 2016? Well this certainly sounds pretty good to me.
Ah, sounds, there is the only problem with this album, which is nearly 140 minutes long and covers the band’s complete career although with a heavier focus on the early years and the latest album. This just does not sound like a professionally recorded modern release, but much more like a high-quality audience bootleg. There are times in the quieter sections when some members of the audience can be heard talking over the music, and the overall sound is much more muddied which tends to happen when there has been no separation of the microphones/inputs. This is a real shame as the actual performance is that of a band really tight having already played more than 20 shows in tight succession prior to this one. Yes, there are times when the vocals do not quite hit right, but I would much rather hear that then a “cleaned up” version which has been modified to sort all mistakes.
This is very much an album which fans of the band will want to have in their collection, but certainly is not the best introduction to those who have not come across them prior to that. The new album ‘The Other Side’ is well worth investigating, while ‘A Tab In The Ocean’ will always be their classic to me, but while this is not something for a newcomer, for people like me this is still a very solid release indeed although it does feel like an opportunity missed. 6/10