The Magna Carta record label is specialized in prog rock, virtuoso guitarists and other impressive instrumentalists. On Live At Metalworks the label united the musical forces of two of the most excellent Canadian guitarists, namely Dave Martone and Glen Drover. The special edition I received is a very nice digipack containing a DVD, as well as a live album of the concert. The DVD contains a number of encores that are lacking on the live CD. As an extra gesture Magna Carta included a guitar plectrum.
The first part of both discs holds the concert of Dave Martone, a guitarist who has a technical and virtuoso style with fast and solid solos. On his solo albums he also uses keyboards, but when playing live on stage Martone is only accompanied by bassist David Spidel and drummer Gary Grace. So the emphasis of this live concert is on the impressive guitar skills and the adventurous bass playing by Spidel challenging Martone to give everything he has. When you watch and listen to his great chops and fine melodies during the opener The Goodie Squiggee Song and the freaky piece Dinky Pinky, you'll know you've reached Guitar Heaven.
However, in compositions like Bossa Dorado, he blends guitar playing in the vein of Santana with heavy metal shredding guitar influences, which work out sublime. One of the special compositions is his adaptation of The Devil Went Down To Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band, wherein Martone challenges himself to play a duel with the devil, so to say. During the final song of the set label mate Glen Drover enters the stage to play a majestic version of Crush Of Love, a cover from Joe Satriani. The set list of the CD ends here; the DVD contains three additional but rather obligated songs.
During the second set of the show Glen Drover is the main attraction. He's best-known as the guitarist for Megadeth so you might think that he explores the heavy metal side of instrumental guitar music. Indeed, his guitar sound has a metal edge, but it is melodic in the first place. On stage he's duelling with keyboardist Jim Gilmour (Saga), while bassist Paul Yee and drummer Chris Sutherland provide a solid background. During Frozen Dream and Illusions Of Starlight, two compositions by Gilmour, you really can enjoy how these two styles come together. While Drover is playing his composition Ascension, I noticed how emotional a guitar sound can be. Next to the songs written by one of the musicians on stage, Drover plays a short version of Filthy Habits by Frank Zappa.
The final composition on the CD is Symphony Of Destruction, a song from Glover's band Megadeth. In this piece Dave Martone guests as a guitarist. Although this is a stunning version, you'll discover why Dave Mustaine is the lead vocalist of Megadeth. Mustaine's voice is very special; whether you like his voice or not, it certainly gives the songs of Megadeth something peculiar. Drover does a good job here, but perhaps his voice sounds too common to outclass his band mate. It's a bit strange that the best songs of the second set are only presented on DVD. I think the versions of Jean Luc Ponty's Don't Let The World Pass You By and Mirage are the most stunning ones of the set. This means that the special edition including the DVD is the most interesting to buy.
Having two impressive guitarists on stage isn't new. We have seen G3 in several combinations, but in general these discs give a positive impression of two outstanding musicians performing live on stage. The way they guest at one of each other's compositions is promising and I'm looking forward for more. In the future I would like to see a third set, wherein two virtuoso guitarists play together and by doing so lift each other to an even higher musical level.
*** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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