Inside Out has the admirable goal to ruin every follower of the sympho-prog genre. The german label is producing constantly an infinity of new titles, offering them in special, collectors' or limited editions, digipack, book format o with bonus CD's. Now, to this vast repertoire we have to add a new product that the label has created to tempt the weak will collectors. It's about a magnificent box that includes both double CD's and DVD's, put together to capture a specially interesting show or event from every perspective you can imagine. Yes, both formats are available separately, but jointly in a case are simply irresistible.
The offence started, if I'm not wrong, with Ayreon. Recently, Pallas enjoyed a similar release. Even our beloved Steve Hackett is getting used to release his recordings in such editions. The two new titles in this series are a collectors' must: “Meet The Flower Kings”, with the swedish maestros as protagonists, and “Live In Europe”, from the very popular and successful Transatlantic.
I'll talk about the release of the double live CD from the intercontinental quartet. Recorded on the 013 in Tilburg (a real sanctuary for the symphonic-progressive community) on November the 12th of 2001, this canned concert performs, if the events don't turn dramatically, as a generous testament for the short but really fruitful career of the band. If the now iconic “SMPTe” (2000) had its double live counterpart (“Live In America”, 2001), the no less successful “Bridge Across Forever” (2001) is complemented with this testimony of the European tour the band (reinforced for the occasion through the multiple abilities of Daniel "Pain Of Salvation" Gildenlöw) did the year of September the 11th. I had the chance to see them live on the excellent London Astoria show, which was identical to the one on this release.
The festival opens with "Duel With The Devil” (26.00), a wonderful suite performed in a version very faithful to the studio original, even if it has its little variations and different bits on the instrumentation. So, the original saxophone passages are supplied here by Roine Stolt's guitar, and the band do what they can with their vocal harmonies to replace the female chorus on the record. In the same way, on the next track, the delightful "My New World" (16.20), keyboards emulate the original string quartet (on the "Bridge Across Forever" songs they use recorded tapes for the orchestral intros), and Stolt, as on the whole repertoire, improvises his solos, without imitating the previously recorded ones.
The band sounds very good, with occasional flaws, but offering a better sensation of cohesiveness than on their previous live effort. Neal Morse goes tender on the next song, the beautiful "We All Need Some Light" (6.41), the only one under fifteen minutes, and a perfect parenthesis before the next exhausting 30 minutes. In London I found it to be excessive, and listening to The Beatles medley inserted on "Suite Charlotte Pike" (30.55) I still I think that it should be ten minutes shorter. Anyway, ¿what would be of Transatlantic without any excesses?
I find CD 2 far superior, given that it includes their two best pieces, and the performances are almost impeccable. In the case of "Stranger In Your Soul" (30.36), I think that it even surpasses the original studio version, thanks to its precision and energy, and to some rewarding details, as it is the inclusion of a fragment of "Love Beyond beyond Words", from “Snow”, which Morse inserts in the middle of the suite.
To conclude, the encore, a half an hour encore in the shape of "All
Of The Above" (30.19), an extraordinary composition. Very well performed,
even if I still prefer the original, which I find to be perfect.
I know for sure that they played, after a 15 minute ovation, their own particular version of Pink Floyd's mythical "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", but that's something you can only find on the DVD format.
Great musicians, virtuosos with a good sense of humor, captured in a double CD of improvable sound, but irresistible repertoire.