The Flower Kings - Meet the Flower Kings - 2003
I’ve always thought that “Alive On Planet Earth” (Inside Out, 2000) was a live album which didn’t truly showcase Roine Stolt’s band abilities, due to a frankly improvable production, the strange song selection, and its “filler” condition after the exhaustingly productive first stage of the band (which, we must remember, concluded with two consecutive double albums). After a chat with Roine about “Meet The Flower Kings”, I had the feeling that he also wasn’t specially satisfied with that live work. Undoubtedly, with this show recorded last year at Uppsala Stadsteater , the swedish band has achieved a far superior recording that, in some passages, is simply extraordinary.
The first success is the repertoire, a true gift for the fans which, obviously and fortunately, is a compendium of long tracks and great epics, the most applauded compositions on their discography. These more than 150 generous minutes of the double CD feature true classics such as “Stardust We Are” (26.25), which is performed on its integrity; the colossal “Garden Of Dreams” (divided in two 27.07 and 17.20 sections), and a great performance of “Humanizzimo” (23.10). There’s also room for new high quality pieces, like “The Truth Will Set You Free” (31.20) or the powerful “Silent Inferno” (16.13), both from the faultless “Unfold The Future” (Inside Out, 2002). The love Stolt, Bodin and Co. feel for improvising and flirting with jazzy sounds is eloquently reflected on the version of “Circus Brimstone” (11.18) which is included here.
The production offers a crystal clear sound, which allows the listener to enjoy every little brilliant trick of each performer, and all of them verge on brilliance. Besides, the album features a lavish seven-member line up, adding to the regular band Daniel “Pain Of Salvation” Gildenlöw’s multiinstrumentistical abilities and the irreplaceable Hasse Bruniusson’s unpredictable percussion and clownish histrionics. Bruniusson’s performance is particularly remarkable on “Circus Brimstone”, a track which here has the shape of a spectacular improvisation, going from atmosphere to delirium in a few minutes. On a global perspective of the double CD, here shine the performances of “Garden Of Dreams”, which takes the original recording from “Flower Power” (Foxtrot Records, 1999) to build a new piece of music, and a devastating “Humanizzimo”, one of the band’s best compositions (even if it was written before its official foundation).
About the DVDs, there’s not much I can say. Both feature the same
setlist as the audio recording, and the visuals aren’t specially
brilliant. The stage is anything but showy, you rarely see the small
and selected crowd, and the filming is sadly unimaginative. At best,
the rehearsing and touring footage is interesting, even if picture quality
is mediocre and the one and only language choice is swedish. Anyway,
Hasse Burniusson’s clown nose and assorted bizarre percussions
So, the visuals are frankly poor, but the double CD is a must.