If someone as awesome as Steve Vai describes watching someone play for the first time and being “stunned to silence”, you know there is something special going on. And Tommy Emmanuel is the man for the job. Not only is he not of this planet from a technical point of view, he also turns out to be a stellar entertainer and a really funny guy.
Should you not know who Emmanuel is (hey, I was only introduced to him a couple of years ago), this man is a phenomenon on nylon and steel stringed guitars, preferably from fellow Aussies Maton. And not only that, sometimes he is a one man band, providing percussive sounds and bass along his chords and melodies. And on top of that, he sings as well. How can we not be impressed by this man’s capabilities? And now we’re at it, his rhythmic prowess matches that of his guitar playing.
So I dare you to watch this DVD and not be impressed. Whether it are the 11 tracks taken from various performances in the US or the 5 bonus tracks, prepare to be blown away. Not only by dazzling technique, but also by wit and feel. Alone, or with friends, the man is born to play and perform. And in his own words, still trying to become good at it. Humbling!
Earlier this year The Aurora Project released their third album Selling The Agression on Freia Music, and my review of it was quite favourable. And now the same label and band bring us a DVD: Selling It Live. Which is, should you not have guessed, a capture of their live performance at the release of the aforementioned album. So we get the full album, and additional favourites from both band and fans.
Recorded on 32 tracks and 12 camera´s we get a close view of this band in action. And despite playing tight and focused, it takes many members quite some time to flash a smile and express their joy of playing for the large crowd. So even if they have performed live a lot (supporting amongst others Threshold, RPWL or Pain Of Salvation), knowing you are being filmed for a future release is still causing some extra tension I guess.
This results in an at times static performance. I also suspect that at least some of the backing vocals are not live, but as a whole the band sure play tight and deliver their songs with conviction. Another good thing is the video wall to support the lyrics with vivid images. The music is a heart warming combination of prog metal and neo prog, so still nothing wrong with that. Congratulations to band and label for pulling this off, and proggies, you know what to do.
Been a long time coming to write another post about a DVD. So now I have doubled those numbers, what better choice to make than this Saga DVD? Especially one that pays tribute to one of the best selling Saga albums ever Worlds Apart. And in my humble opinion Saga deserve some extra attention as they should have been bigger. But that is just me 😉
On the first disc we get a selection of songs, old and new and of course the said album in it’s entirety. Home of several classic Saga songs that will forever be on their live play list, it is no wonder the public is charmed by the performance. And it really is quite the performance. Has bugged me forever that the two virtuosos within the band (Jim Gilmour on keyboards and Ian Crighton on guitar) are not on everyone’s fave player of the year list) and this film shows just how good they really are. Whether in unisono or playing a wild solo, their technique is fabulous as well as rhythmically challenging. Backed by Brian Doerner on drums and shy boy Jim Crighton on bass and keyboards (I actually think he is the one holding the band together). And lead by gentleman singer Michael Sadler (a jack of all trades as he also plays bass and keyboards) who captures his audience easily with his obvious joy and his sometimes Freddy Mercury alike showmanship.
Filmed with a keen eye for the right camera angle, and without tricks, this is a pure live show that shows how good the band is. I have seen them live and this does them justice.
The second DVD has some archive live footage as well as some background stories from band members and crew. Very funny to watch. So quite the package from this unique band.
A good thing about having vacation is taking the time to watch some DVD’s laying on a shelf… This band ranks among my all time favourites. It is a real shame it is a testimony of their final concert at Firefest 2007. With a history of over 19 years and a lot of albums under their belt, their set is sure to disappoint. But only because it is too short! So there is no time for everybody’s favourites. Alas…
If anything, this shows the top class of this band and the genius that are Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance. The latter never seizes to amaze with his unbelievable guitar solos and riffs and Harry is in fine voice as always. Misters Doane on drums and Donaghy on bass and vocals are no slackers either by the way. A lot of fun between them and it shines. The one thing I will never understand is why drums are panned the wrong way. I always get confused when I see a drummer hitting something to my left, and hearing it from the right. Well I guess that is just me. While viewing and listening it is hard to believe Harem Scarem never became a household name. Maybe because some songs simply are too clever. Maybe because the guys look like your neighbour (except Pete who looks like a rock star with all his tattoos, but he also has a short haircut). It can’t be because of the songs. These vary from modernistic hard rock, to classic AOR, but always ooze class… We will probably never know.
I admire the band for always doing what they wanted to do, and for never looking back. And for corkers like Mood Swings and Voice Of Reason of course.
Among the bonus features there is footage from 1994, during the tour for their second album Mood Swings. It is fun because of all that hair that later disappeared, and because of the songs, but audio and video are bootleg quality at best. Nevertheless also a testimony to my earlier point, a brilliant act! More interesting for me are clips of them working in the studio, recording. More is good 😉
I for one am still looking out / hoping for news about the guys, ya never know… For now, enjoy this or play any of their albums.