After being pretty impressed by Blind Ego's latest studio release Liquid (2016, see review), I eagerly wanted to see how they would perform live. So early this year, January 14 to be precise, I headed to Cultuurpodium Boerderij in Zoetermeer; the Dutch prog temple to hopefully have a brilliant evening. With minimal information about the performing band that evening, I was hoping for Erik Blomkvist to be the lead vocalist. But Erik told me earlier, he would not be part of the live band and a different singer would lead the band. So, sure, mixed feelings there were, but the minute vocalist Scott Balaban entered the stage and opened his mouth to sing his first lines, I knew band leader and guitarist Kalle Wallner had made a very, very good choice by recruiting this amazing vocalist.
A few months later, Blind Ego performed at the Night Of The Prog festival in the same line up; both Wallner and Balaban were joined by a very solid and inspired band, consisting of second guitarist Julian Kellner of Dante fame, Sylvan's bass player Sebastian Harnack and former Dreamscape drummer Michael Christoph. One part of the digipack holds the CD recordings of that unique concert, the second part of the digi is a DVD with live recordings of their Hamburg show, a show that even can be watched at their You-Tube channel. This review however will cover the Loreley concert, because the promo just holds the CD version, but please check the show on line if you like.
Liquid Live is, like I mentioned a recording of the whole show the band performed on a rainy afternoon close to the river Rhine, at Loreley. Being part of the promotional tour, Blind Ego focussed on the Liquid album and seven of the ten tracks also can be found on that previous release. The cool thing is, when you are familiar with the songs on that Liquid album, the extra dimension they get when they are played live, especially with a very gifted vocalist fronting, someone like Baladan. What you get is a very solid set, played by dedicated musicians, having a great time together and even in the rain still connecting to the audience, making them forget all the outside wetness. Excellent versions of A Place In The Sun and Never Escape The Storm show a band that both rocks as well as touches the smoother emotional side of their songs. Kalle proves he remains of the most gifted guitar players of Germany I have ever heard, but also credits to Julian Kellner, who does a great job and provides power where needed and adds subtle parts at different spots. I only mentioned two tracks of the show, but basically the whole show is an impressive ride, filled with wonderful tracks, played to perfection. A special mention goes out to Blackened, a track that is one of my favourites on the Liquid album and sung by Subsignal's Arno Menses. Where on the January show Menses guested on this track, here Baladan is on his own and totally nails the song, covering the emotion of the album track, adding his own depth to it, Wunderbar!
As much as I liked the show I attended, this CD shows a band that already has played a number of times together and have grown. And that shows! Liquid Live is an inspired live concert; musicians having fun and eager to show that to the audience. Luckily they will be playing in Holland next year again. I'm looking forward to catch up again. For now; push repeat.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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