Finishing his morning meal, Alan Parsons is remarkably amiable as he indulges in a chat about the clichés of his native country's indigenous foods: "English muffins don't exist in England at all. They're more like a blueberry muffin over there," he muses before diving into an in-depth talk on his career as it currently exists — that is, as a live performer.
Parsons' reputation as a highly lauded producer and engineer is the result of having contributed to some of the most significant recordings of all time: the Beatles' Abbey Road and Let It Be, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, Paul McCartney's Red Rose Speedway, Al Stewart's hit "Year of the Cat," the Hollies' successful singles "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" and "The Air That I Breathe," not to mention the albums he created under the moniker of the Alan Parsons Project.
Given his prodigious talents behind the boards, one might not expect Parsons to have a proclivity for taking center stage. Yet, that's where he can be found these days, touting a retooled, road-ready version of the Alan Parsons Project and performing as the prime player in what's now known as the Alan Parsons Live Project. It's an enterprise that was forged 20 years ago and still tours incessantly today, some 40 years after the Project's initial incarnation.
"The live concert arena is much more forgiving in terms of having to duplicate every last effect," Parsons explains of his latest live arrangement. "We have the advantage of a lot of different singers, and when we're not touring with an orchestra, the symphonic sounds are a great deal easier to reproduce with keyboards than they were back in the day."
Parson remembers making the transformation from studio master to touring. "Our first tour was in Germany, and literally, from the very first concert in Hamburg, I was hooked," he says. "With the record business, the way it is these days, touring is a means of allowing a performing artist to survive. I hate the travel, but I love doing the shows."
Though he may have set a tough precedent with the extravagant nature of his early studio sounds, Parsons is confident that those recordings more than hold up live. "I think the only thing that might disappoint some people is that they think we have Pink Floyd's budget," he laughs. "They think we're going to have flying pigs and theatrics and dancing girls and all kinds of things. We don't, but it is still a great rock 'n' roll show. It's very dramatic and dynamic. I don't think anybody's ever been disappointed with the repertoire. We always play all the hits they want to hear."
Alan Parsons Live Project
With special guests the Orchestra (starring former members of Electric Light Orchestra). 7:30 p.m. Sunday, February 14, at Mizner Park Amphitheater, 590 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Tickets cost $39.50 to $189.50 plus fees. Call 561-750-1668, or visit aeglive.com.