Lee Speaks About Music… #10

Sanctuary Live – Robert Reed



Another pre-ordered release that surprisingly arrived though my letter box 3 days earlier than it’s official release date of the 12th June, and as always with all Rob’s solo and Magenta album’s I always order directly from his own website to which you are guaranteed to get it at the best price. This tasty package comes with a CD and DVD and is a bargain for its price tag of £12.

Rob started his own solo career back in 2014 with the release of his debut album Sanctuary and in early 2016 he followed it up with the release of Sanctuary II. Both of which are stunning albums and perhaps musically, both album’s say more about the great artist Mike Oldfield rather than Robert Reed himself, and he’s very much paid an homage to the great classic music Oldfield was churning out in the 70’s and even made it sound as if the material came out of that decade and was done by Oldfield himself.

I have to say myself that its perhaps the most extraordinary thing I have heard from anybody starting a solo career (even as a side line as Rob has done) to do. It’s as if Robert Reed is Mike Oldfield with what he has done and presented to his many fans. Many people have criticised him for doing such a thing, but if like myself you was into his work he does with his band Magenta beforehand and paid more attention to the material he was writing for that, this is hardly that surprising in the least.

The fact is that Rob has been writing material around existing melody lines from all those years back all his life. Every Magenta album contains melody lines to which Rob has so skilfully reworked, sculptured, shaped and carved out to fit into his music. The fact that he can do this so skilfully is the work of a pure genius, simply because those melody lines he has worked around, he has very much made them his own and you are not hearing exactly the same piece of music that was on all those many greats that came out of the 70;s. Such as Yes. Genesis. King Crimson and many others including Mike Oldfield all of which can be heard on Magenta album’s.

Both of his Sanctuary album’s contain many melody lines from many Oldfield albums. Mostly from the 70’s but even go as far as 1992 with melody lines from Oldfield’s Tubular Bells 2. But not one of those melody lines are played exactly the same as they was on the records by Oldfield and Rob as merely done what Oldfield did himself when he restructured the melody lines for Tubular Bells 2. So for the many who see this has plagiarism I rather think this is not the case at all, and both artists are pure geniuses with what they have both done.

The Packaging & Artwork…

1 Santuary Live

The slip case that contains the both discs is very much the same as the packaging that the latest Magenta album We Are Legend came in last month. Only this one does not come with a booklet. I rather like this design because both discs are easy to retrieve from the pockets, and because it has a glossy coating, you are not going to be getting any scratch marks on the discs surface when removing them.

The unusual thing I did find is that Disc 1 is actually the DVD and 2nd disc is the CD. Normally it’s the other way around, but I am not complaining especially has I always see the DVD as the most important thing and not the CD. I always prefer to watch a live concert and not just listen to it.

I do however always rip the CD onto my computer so I can listen it on their occasionally, but that’s about the only thing I do with the disc and it never gets played on my HiFi and has I do not drive and have a car, the CD’s in all these type of packages are very much redundant. But do not ask me for them, cause I love to keep the package and all its contents in tact.

The cardboard slipcase contains all the information regarding what’s on album such as the tracks and the musicians, but does not contain any information about the 5.1 mix that is on the DVD. I have to admit I was a bit worried when I originally ordered it, because even the website never gave any information regarding a 5.1 mix or even there actually being the whole concert on the DVD. It even made out that the DVD only contained excerpts from the concert on there.

It was very confusing I have to say, but knowing how Rob always provides 5.1 mixes with everything he has done recently I ordered it all the same, and I would of even if the album was just a live audio concert anyway as I love Sanctuary that much. But my mind was soon put at ease when I played the DVD and it does contain the whole concert and a quality 5.1 mix too.

It really is a great package for the money, and once again you are getting really more than your money’s worth. The artwork as expected displays a photo shot from the concert. Some photos are also on the inside and on the back of slipcase and they are placed onto a black background. Giving the package a very nice presentation.

Early Thoughts…

I remember very well when Rob Reed announced he was going to playing the music from both of his Sanctuary album’s in August last year. It was very much a concert I was planning to go and see. I even got in touch with my brother who does have transport and drives and offered to buy his ticket as we both love Robs music and I so desperately wanted to go. But being as the venue was in Bath there was no way of us getting there and back on the same day, and my brother had other work on that weekend.

Had it of been years ago I would of went there by myself on the train, and even roughed it for the night and gone home the next day. But these days my health is not the best at the best of times, and I could not really afford the money for an hotel to stay overnight. So I had to put an end to all my dreams and miss the show.

But I did know he was filming the show for a live DVD release, and this very concert I have been eagerly awaiting for ever since, and now the waiting is over and I am over the moon that I have managed to get to see the show now.

I even remember having a good chat with Rob at the Robin 2 about his planned concert for Sanctuary when I seen him with Kiama supporting the band Frost* earlier in that year. I particularly wanted to know how he could afford to put on such a show in such a small venue, especially how I thought the ticket prices were amazingly quite cheap at £25 each, and it was a lot more smaller venue than what the Robin 2 was in Bilston. Wolverhampton.

He did put on 2 shows that day of the concert, one in the afternoon and an evening show. You could watch the both shows for £35. But even that still seemed remarkably cheap. Also the fact that just like Oldfield he would have to hire an array of musicians to be able to perform the music live. I thought it was quite a gamble to be even able to get his money back.

Rob told me it was one of those things he had to do and he may even be able to recuperate some of the money back from the sales of the DVD. Getting out there and performing it live was more important to him than the money side of things. So he really does give his fans great entertainment and value with what he does.

The Musicians…

Well as all those know who have the Sanctuary album’s the biggest majority of the music is played by Rob himself, with the exception of the drums on the 2nd album to which Simon Phillips played. The odd flutes by Les Penning and the only other thing Rob never did was all the female voices.

A thirteen piece band was assembled to play the music and 5 of them are the latest line up of the band Magenta who appear on their latest album We Are Legend. The list of musicians is as follows:

Rob Reed: Guitar/Keyboard/Vocoder/Marimba/Vibraphone/Tubular Bells.
Chris Fry: Acoustic/Classical & Electric Guitars.
Martin Shellard: Electric/Classical & Acoustic Guitars.
Dan Nelson: Bass.
Jonathan “Jiffy” Griffiths: Drums & African Percussion.
Tim Lewis: Keyboards & Vocoder.
Nigel Hopkins: Piano/Fender Rhodes.
Simon Brittlebank: Timpani/Marimba/Vibraphone/Glockenspiel/Tubular Bells.
Angharad Brinn: Lead Vocal.
Christina Booth. Fran Murphy. Lorraine King. Ffion Wilkins: Chant Vocals.

Handling the sound and PA System were Matthew Richards & Buzz Acoustics. The camera crew in charge of filming the live show were Andrew Lawson. Rhys Davies and Richard Sheldon. The recording engineer was Oli Jacobs.

Sanctuary Live Review…

Both the DVD and CD contain the whole concert in its entirety and has a playing time of 72 minutes and 38 seconds. The DVD also contains an extra feature with a short documentary. The concert was performed live on the 8th August 2016 at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Bath. England.

I have to say the musicians are all extremely talented and capable of handling Robs solo material with ease. Throughout most of the show Rob is playing electric guitar, and only in certain parts will you see him pop over to one of the other instruments and give them a tinkle so to speak. It’s good to see him do so especially playing the tubular bells, marimba and vibraphone.

Rob tends to take a more laid back approach and does not like in particular being the centre stage or in the limelight. He’s quite shy in that way and always likes to focus the attention to the other musicians in the band. He is the same with Magenta and will often focus more of the attention on the vocalist Christina and other members of the band, he’s very generous in that way, and most of his real skills and talent is seen in his studio where he is working on creating the music rather than on the stage.

But there are a few spots here he does shine in this concert, in particular on some of the lead solos on the guitar. But mostly his attention his more focused on the rhythm guitar side of things, leaving most of the lead work to Chris and Martin. Interestingly enough Chris even looks to be happy letting Martin cope with most of the more complex lead work, and he really does a great job of it too.

To be honest I have no idea who Martin Shellard is, and there seems to be very little information about him on the internet too. It’s the first time I have ever come across him, but he does seem to handle all his guitar parts with ease and is a really great player.

The keyboard player Tim Lewis is another musician I have never heard of. Though it’s not hard to find out information about him and the many other artists and bands he has played in. Apparently his career goes back to 1993 when he first started collaborating with Julian Cope. He has also played in at least 5 or 6 other bands and has quite a back catalogue of music with everything he has been involved in. All of which I have never heard of any of them.

But the one thing I got out of watching him play from this concert. Is that the man is a pure workhorse, and along with Simon Brittlebank on the percussion who is another completely unknown to me. There is no doubt that these two musicians are entirely working their butts off and have the hardest stints in the entire gig.

Both are extremely talented musicians who can not only handle their parts with ease, but also play them to perfection. The way Tim plays even Les Penning’s flute parts on the keyboard is a delight to watch and is far from anything easy at all to hit all those notes in the way he his hitting them. Its quite breathtaking to watch and in many ways he reminds me with his work rate in particular of Richard Tandy of ELO. Another workhorse who works his butt off at a gig I can assure you.

Both Dan on the bass and Jonathan on the drums provide a very strong backline holding it all up very well, and Christina perhaps seems a little out of place taking on a more of a back seat role along with the other backing singers joining in on the chants, but she seems to be having fun. Has for Angharad Brinn on the lead vocals, she is simply outstanding and does a perfect job in all her parts including on the Willow Song.

The set list of the concert covers Rob Reed’s entire catalogue of his solo career almost over the 1 hour and near enough 13 minute show. It kicks off with Sanctuary 1 Part 1 to which is played all the way through in its entirety. This is followed by a short 4 minute excerpt of the 2nd part of the original 18 minute track.

The whole of the 2 parts of his Sanctuary II album is played in its entirety, and to finish the show they play a 6 minute version of Willow Song to which was originally written for his first Sanctuary album, but has he could not fit it in to work with the original album, he released it on an EP in the same year back in 2014. The EP contained the original 4 minute and 37 seconds song and also included an extended 5 minute and 50 seconds version along with many other promotional snippets of the album and a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair.

The DVD extra of what is supposed to be a documentary is nothing of the sort and in reality is quite disappointing. I would of much sooner of seen Rob talking about the concert over the 12 or 13 minutes we got here, rather than somebody just pointing a camera at the musicians and other people walking around Peter Gabriel’s home studio.

It’s very unprofessional of Rob to do such a thing to be honest, and even the studio itself is not as well captured in relation to how we seen it back in 2010 when Magenta played their acoustic concert there, to which can be seen on their Live At Real World DVD. It’s not the sort of thing you will want to watch again either, unless you was actually one of the people captured on film on that day of course.

The 5.1 Mix…

The live show also contains a very good well detailed 5.1 mix that not only captures the audience and the atmosphere very well, but also contains some of the instrumentation very well placed over its 6 channels making the show even more enjoyable to watch and listen too. Though I would of preferred a DTS 24 bit 96K mix I cannot really complain with how well Rob has done the mix in DTS 24 bit 48K instead.

Has with any live show it’s bound to sound different to the way the studio album’s present themselves in 5.1 and even though the live mix is very good, sound wise it feels a bit lighter and personally for myself it does not give me the same outstanding quality and satisfaction that both studio albums give me when listening to those.

I really get a buzz from both of those studio album’s in 5.1. But never the less without a doubt the concert is well worth playing in 5.1 and can be very well enjoyed and give you the presence of actually being there to some extent.

Summary Of Sanctuary Live…

Sanctuary Live is a very satisfying concert where all the musicians can be seen enjoying themselves on stage and having fun including Rob himself in presenting the great music from his solo career to its audience. Apart from only playing a small snippet of the 2nd part of his debut album, it covers his entire solo work to a very small close nit audience who I am sure thoroughly enjoyed the whole performance.

No doubt the band must of practised really hard to be able to perform it live as well as they did, and it takes some pretty outstanding musicians to be able to perform at this level in the way it was put across. If there are any mistakes in the performance, I certainly cannot spot any and it makes a very entertaining show that one can watch over and over.

In many ways watching them perform the material live takes the edge away from even thinking of Mike Oldfield and it being more of Rob’s own material in relation to the way it was originally constructed from Oldfield’s melody lines.


Overall for the price of the package of £12 Sanctuary Live provides you with a very well entertaining live concert skilfully performed by everyone on the stage. Regarding of whether you was actually there to see it or not.

For those who were I am sure they will enjoy it all again with how it has been captured on film and comes with great audio quality too. For those like myself who was not. It gives you the chance to see it for yourself and even makes you wish you was there. It’s peanuts to pay for the admission price of owning it on DVD and is a genuine bargain that comes with a CD thrown into boot.

The so called documentary that comes as an extra feature on the DVD is perhaps disappointing. But I certainly could not knock off any points off my overall score rating for that.

If you have Magenta’s Live At Real World DVD which is an acoustic concert which was played at the same venue and enjoyed that like myself. Sanctuary Live certainly provides you with a more electrifying experience and does not disappoint one bit. No doubt it’s perhaps a must for all Magenta and Robert Reed fans alike and if your into good music and great musicians this will certainly appeal to many others as well, and comes highly recommended from myself.

The track listing for both the DVD & CD is as follows:

1. Sanctuary 1 Part 1. 21:35.
2. Sanctuary 1 Part 2 (Excerpt) 4:12.
3. Sanctuary II Part 1. 19:53.
4. Sanctuary II Part 2. 20:57.

5. Willow Song. 6:01.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

Lee’s Package Rating 7/10.

Lee’s 5.1 Mix Score Rating 8/10.

Lee’s Concert rating 8/10.

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