Having grown up on Genesis and Rush (with a healthy helping of Kansas / Jethro Tull) during the late 70's and early 80's, Marillion (ably supported in my collection by Simple Minds, Big Country, Waterboys and U2) in the Mid 80's and King's X / Dream Theater in the 90's, the mid to late 90's were a time of "resurgence of "Prog Rock" with Spock's Beard and these guys, The Flower Kings.
This is the Double Live DVD / CD Set from their Tilburg/Holland show on April 19th, 2006 in support of the "Paradox Hotel" Double CD.
The band ... Roine Stolt (Vocals, Guitar), Hasse Froberg, (Guitar, Vocals, Percussion), Marcus Liliequist (Drums), Jonas Reingold (bass, guitar, bass pedals), Tomas Bodin (keyboards), put on a tremendous show. It is clear that they are confident in support of one of their best studio CD's ever (9 of the 17 tracks come from "Paradox"). I think whenever a band is super confident of their latest album (think Genesis "Duke", Rush "Moving Pictures") the show is superb and contains a bulk load of material from that album.
The band, have, to me, never sounded so passionate and energized. The opening track, "Paradox Hotel" absolutely rocks and the next three tracks effortlessly weave into one another and are stunning performances ("Hit me with a hit" (also from Paradox"), "Last minute on Earth" (from "Rainmaker" (`01)) is a stellar version, much better than the studio version, "Eyes of the World" (from "Stardust We are" ('97)) picks up midway thru the song and is brilliantly performed. Next up is "Jealousy" (from "Paradox"), a great version of "If God is all alone" (from "Paradox"), a tremendous instrumental (the drums and Bass are fantastic) "Pioneers of Aviation" (from "Paradox"), a well played 10 minute version of "Love Supreme" ("Adam and Eve" ('04)) with Disc (CD and DVD) One closing out with a tremendous 20 minute version of "Truth will set you free" ("Behold the future" ('02)).
Disc Two starts with the brilliant guitar workout "Touch my heaven", the Pink Floydish "Mommy leave the light on" (think "Mother" from "The Wall"), "End on a high note" (this version is 10 out of 10 - stunning a real classic and "Life will kill you" (all from "Paradox" ('06)). The set closer is a ripping version of "I am the sun" ("Space Revolver" ('00)). The first of three encores follows "Blade of Cain" ("Adam and Eve" ('04), and "King's Prayer" ("Space Revolver" ('00)including the "Hey Jude" sing a long with the crowd) and 10 minute version of "Stardust we are" ("Stardust we are" ('97).
2 ½ hours of great music and so many highlights with the band's overall approach (having a great time and letting go more than I've ever heard them before), there's a real chemistry on stage and it comes thru in the music.
The "Wow, that really blew me away" moments for me were ...
Paradox Hotel / Hit me with a hit / Last Minute on Earth / Eyes of the World (These opening four really rock) / Pioneers of Aviation (for Drums / percussion / bass work - brilliant) / Love Supreme / Truth will set you free / Touch my heaven / End on a high note / I am the sun / King's Prayer / Stardust we are... including the "We want more" cries from the crowd together with the pleas for "Stardust" where Roine says.... "You're right, Stardust you are... and ... Stardust you'll get!" and the crowd go crazy! The crowd even get to sing a couple of versus of Stardust with the FK's as backing band!
Oh yes the picture / sound of the DVD. Superb. It's not spectacular it's just very clear and crisp, superbly produced.
The Music though is the key here (If I could find a way to rip DVD audio tracks onto a CD / MP3 player and play them in my car, I'd just buy the DVD only, until then it's both formats and it's the car where I do most of my listening. These CD's have been on high rotation since I got them, the performance is just so good).
All `n' all totally exceeded my expectations. A very passionate, highly energized performance with superb song selection (only "Eyes of the World", "Stardust we are" and "Truth will set you free" have appeared on previous live releases ("Eyes" and "Stardust" (10 minute version) on "Alive from Planet Earth" ('99) and "Stardust" (full 26 minute version) and "Truth will set you free" (full 31 minute version) on "Live Recordings - Epics" (CD), "Meet the Flower Kings" (DVD) ('03).
This music as with much of Flower Kings output over the years is right up there with .... (to think of a few) ...
- Caravan, "For Richard" (live Version from "New Symphonia" 1974) (original 1970).
- Emerson Lake and Palmer, "Tarkus" (title track from "Tarkus" 1971)
- Yes, "Close to the Edge" - (title track from "Close to the Edge" 1972).
- Jethro Tull, "Thick as a Brick" (Live version from "Bursting Out" 1978) (Original 1972).
- Genesis, "Suppers Ready" (Live version from "Seconds Out" 1977) (Original 1972).
- Gentle Giant "Octopus" (Live version from "Playing the fool" 1976) (Original 1972).
- Mike Oldfield, "Tubular Bells", (Live Version on "Exposed" 1979) (Original 1973).
- Pink Floyd, "Darkside of the moon" (1973)
- Elton John, "Funeral for a friend / Love lies bleeding" (from "Goodbye Yellow brick road" 1973)
- Lynyrd Skynrd, "Free Bird" (Live version from "One more from the Road" 1976). (Original 1973).
- Rush "2112" (from 2112, 1976).
- ELO, "Concerto for a rainy day" (Side three of "Out of the Blue" (1977).
- Supertramp , "Fools Overture" (1977).
- Rush, "Cygnus X-1" from "Hemispheres" (1978).
- Tangerine Dream, "Tangram Part 1" (Title track from "Tangram" 1980).
- Alan Parsons Project, "Turn of a friendly Card" (Title track, all of side two (1980).
- Frankie goes to Hollywood, "Welcome to the pleasuredome"
(title track from "Welcome to the pleasuredome" 1984).
- Marillion, "Misplaced Childhood" from (1985).
- Queensryche "Operation Mindcrime" (Live version from 1991). (Original 1988).
- Jane's Addiction, "Three Days" from "Ritual de Habitual" (1991).
- Dream Theater "Learning to Live" from "Images and Words" (1992)
- Dream Theater, "Scenes from a Memory" from (1999).
- Spock Beard, "At the end of the day" from "V" (2000).
- Spock's Beard, "The Great Nothing" from "V" (2000).
- Tool, "The Grudge" from "Lateralus" (2001).
- Transatlantic, "All of the above" (Live version from 2001 in Europe). (Original 2000).
- Transatlantic, "Stranger in your soul" (Live version from 2001 in Europe). (Original 2001).
- Transatlantic, "Duel with the devil" (Live version from 2001 in Europe). (Original 2001).
- Flower Kings "The Truth will set you free" from "Behold the Future" (2002).
- Neal Morse "Testimony" from (2003).
- Green Day "Jesus of Suburbia" from "American Idiot (2004).
Further thought would no doubt reveal more than these favorites. Music, that to me, pushes the musical boundaries in terms of complexity yet still rocks with an abundance of melody and harmony, a difficult thing to accomplish without 100% dedication to create something new, endless practice and commitment.
For me "Alive from Planet Earth" was a great snapshot of their pre-millennium period of music, a lot of fun and high energy. "Live Recordings - Epics... Meet the Flower Kings" ('03) was just that "The Epics", classics with extreme technical skills on show with a "jazz" undertone, stunningly brilliant and perhaps a more "serious" Live album.
With this latest one there is a real sense of pride of their latest studio album "Paradox Hotel" (certainly 4 of my favorite tracks here ("Hit", "Pioneers", "Heaven", and "High Note" are from "Instant Delivery" alone). There is an energy / passion and sense of fun that accompanies this release all the way thru.
In recent years newer bands such as Flower Kings, Spock's Beard, Muse, Gomez, Mercury Rev, Elbow, Coldplay, Evermore, and The Flaming Lips (from "Soft Bulletin" (1999) onwards) have held my interest, together with any new releases from Dream Theater, Marillion and Rush. This Flower Kings release is a classic.
If this sounds remotely like your sort of music, then go for it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, it's really a great show.