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Photos: Alan Parsons Live Project at the Grand Sierra Resort

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Alan Parsons may not be a familiar name to many of the younger crowd, but he has an impressive musical resume. He snuck into the music business by working in the tape duplication department at EMI in 1967 London. After hearing the original tapes of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” while there, he talked his way into a job at 18 in EMI’s new configuration, Abbey Road Studios. 

His first two projects were as a sound engineer on “Abbey Road” and “Let It Be. Other early highlights in his career included working on The Beatles’ “Get Back” sessions, Wings’ “Wild Life” and “Red Rose Speedway,” and engineering five albums by The Hollies. 

He earned the first of his 13 Grammy Award nominations for work engineering Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon. In 1975, the band invited him to work on their follow-up album, “Wish You Were Here,” but he passed to start his own band, the Alan Parsons Project.

The Grand Sierra Resort brought the legendary Parsons, playing as the Alan Parsons Live Project, back to the Grand Theatre for another great show on Friday, March 22. It wasn’t quite a sold-out show but was filled with true fans. 

The stage setup was elegantly simple and functional, with risers for the drums, keyboards and Mr. Parsons, who sat center stage overlooking the proceedings. The lighting was basic, and with no fancy backdrop, the band let their music speak for them, and it spoke well.

Their sound was sensational. The vocals were clean, as was the musicianship across the board. The sound system was great, and the team that runs it did a spectacular job. The “weakest link” adage holds true in any show like this. Everyone seemed to be doing their job to the utmost degree. There was no weak link with which to be concerned.

Most of the band has been with Parsons for a long time, with lead singer P.J. Olsson going back the furthest—to 2003. P.J. does the lion’s share of the singing, and he has a beautiful and powerful voice, holding long notes on pitch with no wavering. Excellent vocalist. 

Jeffrey Kollman, on lead guitar, had many fantastic solos. Guy Erez played a great bass guitar solo in “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You.” The newest member, Todd Cooper, sings beautifully and plays a great sax, and Tom Brooks’ keyboard playing is like color on a canvas. It fills in everything beautifully and stands out in solos when it’s supposed to. 

The Alan Parson setlist
The Alan Parson setlist. Nick McCabe / THIS IS RENO.

The bottom line is that Alan Parsons has surrounded himself with some of the top musicians available in the business, assuring his music is presented at the desired level and quality he expects. Most of these guys have resumes separate from this band that would be the envy of any musician. 

Alan Parsons’ occupation, as defined by Wikipedia, is as an audio engineer, composer, musician, record producer and director. His many talents are why he is positioned in the middle of his band, on a riser surrounded by his stars, directing the show.

After playing “Damn If I Do,” Parsons spoke a little about his early days working at Abbey Road Studios and working on one of his songs with Gary Brooker of Procol Harum, who died in 2022. He dedicated the next song, “Limelight,” to Brooker’s memory. Ever the director, he asked the audience to hold up their phones with their lights on during the chorus on his signal and then to turn them off when he gave another signal, fingers cutting across his throat.

The crowd appreciated everything played, but the hits were what they’d come for. “I Wouldn’t Wanna Be Like You,” “Don’t Let It Show” and “Damn If I Do” drew huge responses from the crows. But he saved his biggest hits for the end of the set: “Eye In The Sky” and the encore ender, “Games People Play.” 

Whenever Parsons got up off his stool, you could tell that he was having mobility issues. His movements were slow and tentative when standing up, but he managed with brief hesitation. Toward the show’s end, Parsons was singing several songs. At 75 years old, I’m sure his bones are barking, but it’s clear he’s still eager to entertain.

THE BAND

  • Alan Parsons – Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Composer, Arranger
  • P.J.Olsson – Vocals
  • Danny Thompson – Drums
  • Guy Erez – Bass, Vocals
  • Tom Brooks – Keyboards, Vocals
  • Todd Cooper – Saxophone, Vocals, Percussion
  • Danny Tracey – Guitars, Vocals
  • Jeff Kollman – Lead Guitar, Vocals

SETLIST

  • Standing on Higher Ground
  • Don’t Answer Me
  • Psychobabble
  • Time
  • Breakdown / Raven
  • I Wouldn’t Wanna Be Like You
  • One Note Symphony
  • Don’t Let It Show

   Intermission

  • Damn If I Do
  • Limelight
  • Can’t Take It With You
  • Old and Wise
  • Prime Time
  • Sirius / Eye In The Sky

Encore

  • (The System of) Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether
  • Games People Play
Nick McCabe
Nick McCabe
Nick McCabe is a Reno-based photojournalist and musician. He’s been shooting concerts in the Reno-Tahoe area since 2006 and writing articles and reviews since 2012, as well as doing interviews on occasion. His musical education and playing experience goes back to 1967. He is a founding member of the Reno Tahoe Forte’ Awards, and he still plays music locally for enjoyment. First concert: Jimi Hendrix. Last concert: we’ll see.

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