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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Arjen Lucassen´s Star One - Live on Earth - 2003

Very prospective this new double live CD of the Dutch multi instrumentalist called Arjen Lucassen. Only a few could think that a project of such magnitude like Ayreon or Star One could be carried out Live. As you will be able to check in previous interviews to Mr Lucassen, he said that that he never would play Ayreon songs live because it would be impossible. Well, nobody still knows how but it has realized it. Recorded during the Mini Tour that it took him around his country and adjacent areas, “Live on Earth” shows us a summary of more than 7 years of this fantastic musician's work. We will be able to find a good package of guests artists that have carried out and (sometimes) adapted the Ayreon & Star One roles. In the rhythmic way we can find the well-known Ed Warby who already collaborated before with Lucassen and with a good Dutch band called Elegy. A legendary bass player like Peter Vink and one of the best keyboard players that have been able to listen in the last years called Joost Van der Broek. In the vocal package we find the voices of Sir Russell Allen (Symphony X), Floor Jansen (After Forever) and her sister Irene Jansen, Damian Wilson and Robert Soeterbroek who also worked in previous Ayreon abums. Ewa Albering playing flute in a couple of songs and.. the heart of the party comes: Mr Arjen A. Lucassen playing all guitars and some synthesizer parts.

OK well, anxious to listen this new work we lay down on the sofa to analyze this extensive double live CD. Turn off the lights and let the show begin.

"Lift Off" is the track in charge of open the show. A big dose of synthesizers introduces us in this exciting trip in which the applause of the crazy fans can be listened so much. Without a delay the show begins with a powerful "Set Your Controls" taken from the last studio album. From the beginning we can appreciate the impressive sound quality in all the recording, a good seal that you/they have always had the Ayreon albums. All the musicians are on stage in this track mainly to demonstrate that, Yes! it can be real, is not a dream to carry out a rock opera rock live. "High Moon" also belonging to Star One follows the same wave that the previous track. A good outburst but oriented this time to a more Heavy Metal way. Good choice to open the show!. "DreamTime" and "Eyes of Time" are the chosen topics by Lucassen to show the first Ayreon album but discarding the central instrumental sequences. They also have opted to include only the sung parts, in this occasion the voices of Russell Allen and Damian Willson respectively. The same thing happens to the following song called "Songs of the Ocean" in which all the singers appear giving a master lesson of their understanding again. "Dawn of a Million Souls" is the first blink to the last Ayreon Album called “Flight of the Migrator” and it is the time for Mr Russell Allen to show us his best performance. Subsequently Mr Lucassen to the guitar give us in a new track. "The Dream Sequencer" makes us note the great influence of Pink Floyd in the music of Lucassen & his compositions. Continuing with the songs of this first CD here comes "Into the Black Hole" who the famous Bruce Dickinson sang. This time the one in charge of carrying out it has been Damian Wilson (and quite well). it is necessary to highlight the work of the Jansen sisters in the choirs getting a good understanding. In this occasion they decided to play this track in almost the entirety song and grateful we find the first performance of Ewa Albering on the flute. "Actual Fantasy" (title of the CD that gives it name) introduces us to Robert "powerful voice" Soeterbroek who guides us to the following topic belonging to the third Ayreon album. "Valley of the Queens" is the first ballad of the night. Duet sung by the Jansen sisters it is able to be one from the faithfulest versions of the whole concert.

After a break to take a refreshment, we put on the headphones again for the attentive listening of the second CD:

"Isis & Osiris" opens the second part of the live CD. Already waited a song of the album called “Electric Castle”. They could not have chosen a better one. We can also appreciate the increase of protagonism in the progressive rhythms and in the use of Hammond's and the habitual synthesizers. A track that we had never imagined live and.. why not to say it?, they perform to the perfection without missing the original singers. Continuing the versions of “Electric Castle” we find "Amazing Flight in Space". This time we can listen the voice of Arjen for the first time. As sporadic as in their studio CDs. It is in this same song where the first duel of the night arrives. Guitar vs. Keyboards in a very good fight between Lucassen and Joost Van der Broek in which we can find impressive solos and sometimes comic. We Return to Star One songs. "Intergalactic Space Crusaders" charge us (in what refers to musical hardness) again and without mediating word we return to old songs. "Castle Hall" is another of the good choices for this live one capturing the whole essence of the Ayreon albums. "The Eye of Ra" gives us a masterful melody and creation of atmospheres lesson again. Very well orderly choirs being able to take out all the juice to these stupendous singers. It´s coming closer the end of the CD but we listen to a topic of “Actual Fantasy” like this "Starchild" again. To finish.. a long track. "The Two Gates" closes this double album. Climax in one of the most operatic of the album. Russel Allen is the one in charge of introduce us (in a quite original and peculiar way at the same time) to the band, getting a perfect connection with the audience.

In summary, an exceptional album. It will be difficult to find any fault on it. Very good musicians, professionalism above all and impeccable sound for this double live CD. Chapeau Mr Lucassen!

Germán Villén - April 2003
rating - Inside Out

 

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