Anyone who saw the Swedish progressive rock band Moon Safari perform live on stage must admit that they're one of a kind. It seems they quite easily perform the intricate music of their studio albums. Indeed, while listening to their music I realized that Moon Safari don't play the simple chords of pop tunes we can hear all day long on the radio. They compose well-structured songs influenced by bands as Yes, The Beatles, The Flower Kings and The Beach Boys. They already brought many progressive rock fans into ecstasies. Well, I certainly got goose bumps when I saw them for the first time perform in The Netherlands at the Symforce III Festival 2009 (see review) and in front of an enthusiastic audience at the Prog Resiste Convention 2010 in Belgium (see review). But the performance that impressed me most was in 2011 during the last Progfarm Festival (see review) in The Netherlands. Prior to that performance they told me that their first live album was going to be released soon.
The Gettysburg Address was recorded at The RoSfest Festival (USA) in May 2011 including the entire show. The audience was already acquainted with Moon Safari since their concert in 2009. At the time they blew the roof of the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg. Well, according to the music on this double-CD they once again were very successful. The reactions of the audience when the band is announced and after each song reveal that they liked this second gig a lot. That's obvious after listening to the excellent recordings. Simon Åkesson (keyboards, lead and backing vocals), Petter Sandström (acoustic guitar, harmonica, lead and backing vocals), Pontus Åkesson (backing vocals, guitars), Johan Westerlund (backing vocals, bass guitar), Tobias Lundgren (backing vocals, drums, percussion) and Sebastian Åkesson (additional keyboards, guitars, backing vocals) prove how they master their instruments and their singing during a live performance. Once again I could enjoy their excellent playing while performing the outstanding harmony vocals simultaneously. Bravo! It was just as if I was listening to their performance at Progfarm.
The set list was about the same only on this album they open with the ten-minute instrumental piece Moonwalk followed by Lover's End, part I and A Kid Called Panic both from their latest album Lover's End. They also performed New York City Summergirl with the additional New York New York- ending. Yasgur's Farm included the same kind of introduction by the musicians and the funny way Petter Sandström introduced the songs was recognizable as well. He talked about the rumours of him and the girl appearing on the cover of Lover's End, about the girl with a moustache and about Other Half Of The Sky, the last song of the set which he called 'a long but boring tune'. Well, I can't name this thirty-minute long epic boring, because it sums up everything what this band stand for: magnificent lead and harmony vocals and many perfect instrumental breaks. Just the way I like it! Unfortunately they didn't play my favourite medley from A Doorway To Summer, which is an outstanding piece of music. Also the a cappella versions of Intro Southern Belle and Constant Bloom can't be find on this release. They probably sang it outside the concert hall to celebrate the 29th birthday of drummer Tobias Lundgren. But anyway, you can't have them all, can you? Instead they included some fantastic pictures in the booklet and some well-written liner notes about the performed songs.
What to say in general about this release? Well, the recordings just left me speechless. Everything falls just in place and is perfectly done. Therefore I can only give the highest rating to The Gettysburg Address. This album probably is for Moon Safari what Yessongs was for Yes, Seconds Out for Genesis, Exit Stage Left for Rush and Two for The Show for Kansas. These are all live albums representing strong progressive rock music, which can be said about this one as well. Currently Moon Safari undoubtedly belongs to the best live acts in the genre!
***** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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