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Jason Monaghan

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Live At Luna Park [Blu-ray] [2013]
Live At Luna Park [Blu-ray] [2013]
Dvd ~ Dream Theater
Price: £16.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dream Theater marches onwards ..., 29 Nov. 2013
Dream Theater's latest live release is another very worthy entry in their much admired catalogue and demonstrates why the band continues to reign as the kings of progressive metal music.

If I could, I would rate this release a 4.5. My only quibble is with the set list, which to me is a little unbalanced, but that is really just a matter of personal preference. There are already many detailed and well thought reviews here - I won't attempt to compete with those but would like to share a few observations of my own.

Unlike some reviewers, I think the sound quality is good. I have not heard the 5.1 mix but to my ears the quality of the stereo mix is such that I would rank the recording among the best of the band's numerous live releases.

In particular, I think the ADToE tracks benefit from this slightly more aggressive and 'guitar prominent' mix. (I thought the orchestral synths were overdone on the studio album). The band as a whole plays very well throughout and in my view they do not suffer at all - in a live setting at least - from Mike Portnoy's absence. They remain a fearsomely powerful - and it would seem very contented - live band.

I do find the video editing to be annoyingly fast, but unfortunately that is a relatively standard practice these days and it's one I'm (reluctantly) adjusting to.

In terms of the set list, I think the show would have been better had it included a true epic such as Octavarium or A Change of Seasons. Or something from Black Clouds and Silver Linings (preferably the ambitious and majestic Count of Tuscany), particularly as no live recording have been released from that tour. But a band with a catalogue as extensive as Dream Theater's will never please everyone and I don't doubt that most fans will find much to enjoy (particularly given the generous inclusion of the alternate tracks). I know I have.

I should add that the packaging on the deluxe version is very good. The hardcover book which houses the six discs is well constructed and printed on good quality paper and the photos themselves are well done. Some written reminisces from the band on the tour or perhaps a piece from their biographer would have been a nice touch, but again it is unfair to complain about such things. Beyond the inclusion of the full show (and bonus tracks) on CD, there is no additional video content beyond that included with the standard Blu-ray or DVD release.

In summary, this is an excellent release that serves many worthwhile roles. It is of course a wonderful document of the "Dramatic Turn" tour and a fine complement to that album and its fascinating documentary on the recruitment of their new drummer. It also acts as an excellent introduction to Mike Mangini for fans like (those in Australia) who have yet to see him perform live with the band. Finally, given the production delays and subsequent quirky timing of its release, it serves to very effectively whet the appetite for the upcoming tour in support of their recent, and very strong, self titled album. I, for one, cannot wait to see them again.

50 Words for Snow
50 Words for Snow
Price: £7.99

26 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still startling ..., 21 Nov. 2011
This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
It may surprise people to think about it in these terms, but Kate Bush has been startling audiences with her unique artistic vision in a recording career that now extends across five decades.

She first burst into public view as a teenager in 1978 with her hit single "Wuthering Heights" and debut album The Kick inside. It was then - and remains today - difficult to comprehend that a work so accomplished, so fully realised (and at times, so deeply personal and confronting) could have been produced by a precocious 19 year old.

The 1980s would prove to be challenging decade for many artists who thrived in the 70s. But Bush flourished, producing a peerless trilogy of boldly experimental and startlingly beautiful albums: The Dreaming (1982); Hounds of Love (1985) and The Sensual World (1989). While the 1990s would prove to be more difficult for Bush artistically (and in some respects personally), after a 12 year absence, she returned in 2005 triumphantly, and at the peak of her powers, with the release of the ambitious double album Aerial.

And now, in another new decade, Kate Bush has, for the first time since 1978, rewarded her patient admirers with two new releases. It is probably fair to say that the first of these two, Director's Cut - which featured reworked material from two earlier albums - confused, and divided her very passionate fans in a way that none of her earlier releases had.

However, there is every reason to believe that 50 Words For Snow will come to be viewed as yet another startling triumph. Apart perhaps from the first single, "Wild Man", 50 Words, bears little discernable relationship sonically to anything she has produced before. Its lengthy tracks (only 7 songs over a 65 minute playing time) are linked by the snowy theme. They are intimate, even jazzy at times, and are decidedly more impressionistic than anything she has released before. But even on a first hearing, this is unmistakably Kate Bush, and it has all the emotional depth, haunting beauty and romantic lyricism of the best of her work.

Bush continues to see passion and the possibility of beauty and love in places no one else would think to look - she feels lust for a snowman in "Misty" and compassion for a yeti in "Wild Man". She duets beautifully with her son against a fragile backdrop of gently falling notes ("Snowflake") and with an uncharacteristically subdued Elton John she sings of undying love in "Snowed In at Wheeler Street". The accompaniment, compared at least to her usually lush productions, is starkly minimalistic, but this gentle minimalism is apt given the notionally frigid themes of the album.

But in truth, 50 Words For Snow represents anything but a bleak winter - Bush extracts unimagined warmth and grandeur from the subject matter as only she can. And whether this turns out to be a final recording, or there is still the promise of a new spring to come we should feel blessed that we have once again be allowed to enter her unique and wondrous world.

A must have album for anyone who ever loved her work.
Jason Monaghan
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2011 3:06 AM GMT

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