Anyone who has witnessed the live concerts of Franck Carduccie & The Fantastic Squad knows that they have seen something very special. When the musicians are on stage performing the songs taken from Carducci's solo album they really come alive. The sometimes clean static studio versions of the songs start to breath and they take on a life of their own. The musicians sometimes add extra additional musical parts to the songs. Wearing glamorous outfits and playing an act are the usual things you are going to see from them on stage.
Being a great live act was something the fans really appreciated in Great Britain and led to 'Best Overseas Band' award from UK magazine 'Classic-Rock Society' that was given to them after the 'On The Road To Nowhere' tour which started September 2017.
When everybody labels you as a fantastic live band then there is only one answer you can give them. Releasing a live album on which you prove you are one of the best bands around when you are on a live stage. Well, this Carducci already did in 2017 when he released Tearing The Tour Apart (see review). It was recorded during two concerts at the Climax Club Legend in Lyon (France) on November 20 and 21 in 2015. Highlighting the tour to promote Carducci's second album Torn Apart (2015, see review). It came out on CD, DVD and Blu-ray.
And now all of his fans can welcome their second live release. They named it The Answer Live, after The Answer Tour 2021 to promote Franks latest solo album The Answer (2019, see review). However, it is only now released on CD. A DVD and Blu-ray are planned to be released later on. Carducci didn't want to wait too long with the release of this live concert which they recorded during a show in the Netherlands. It's not the concert I witnessed November 7 at 't Blok in Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel in 2021 (see concert). But the same show they also played in September 2022 at Poppodium Boerderij in Zoetermeer. On stage were Mary Reynaud (percussion, acoustic guitar, Theremin, lead and backing vocals), Léa Fernandez (drums), Franck Carducci (bass, double neck bass/twelve-string guitar, lead and backing vocals), Barth Sky (electric guitar and backing vocals) and Cédric Selzer (keyboard and backing vocals).
The concert and live album starts with (Love Is) The Answer. The title track of Carducci's third and latest studio album. Next up, Closer To Irreversible, it is one of the highlights on Franck's second solo album Torn Apart (2015, see review). This time around the intro is sung by Mary instead of Franck on the original studio version. A new song can be enjoyed next. Titled The Betrayal Of Blue. It is about ecology and how man treats the planet badly. During this song Mary lets the Theremin speak with her body. While she is doing this Selzer is playing a piano part which reminded me a bit of the Pink Floyd song The Great Gig in the Sky. The short version of A Brief Tale Of Time is the on stage belly dance song of Reynaud. But without the images you only hear the fantastic organ solo played by Cédric. Beautiful Night is a solo spot of the captain of this progressive rock band. Singing and playing the guitar by himself. The Angel is the song written by Reynaud. Without the images of Mary wearing the neon light wings the song comes over rather differently. The focus is now even more on the music. Mary's strong voice is only accompanied by a drum rhythm which sounds like a human heart beat (played by Léa Fernandez on drums), raw guitars and keyboard parts performed on the organ and electric piano. The great guitar solo at the end of the song is the icing on the cake. It is wonderfully played by Barth Sky. He also shine's again on Torn Apart, which is the next piece you can enjoy. The guitar riff and the short organ solo just sound amazing. A Carducci concert is not a Carducci concert if Alice's Eerie Dream is not on the setlist. The song is announced as the real story of Alice in Wonderland. Well, if you are a fan you probably know what the story behind the song is all about. Also, here the song gives a different impact without the visuals of Mary when she is playing a hooker who wants to get together with the musicians to earn some money. But we all know the song itself is strong enough without all the extra's. The different time signatures and excellent instrumental parts in this song make it for me one of the strongest piece of music taken from Frank's debut album ODDITY (2011, see review). Asylum, one of the highlights of the latest album, is next. Another long piece of music with very different moods. Sometimes up tempo, sometimes rather mellow. Asylum has on this recording the surprising ending with a Beatles cover tune. Namely The End from the Abbey Road album. Finally,time to enjoy Franck's own rock anthem called Slave To Rock 'n' Roll. Here you can hear heavy guitar riffs combined with beautiful mellow Mellotron parts.
Not every song performed during the concert in Zoetermeer can be found on this excellent live release. A compact disc is of course limited in time. Therefore, they left out Mr Hyde & Dr Jekyll, the Ennio Morricone cover The Ecstasy Of Gold, the earlier mentioned Beatles cover and the unplugged version of On The Road To Nowhere which was done with That Joe Payne. The covers were for obvious reasons not used. Legal rights are probably the reason why they were left out. However, without all those songs there is still enough to enjoy.
Franck Carducci & The Fantastic Squad can be very proud of what they achieved on this release. The band sounds top notch. Therefore, two thumbs up for this amazing live act and recording. Even more when you realize that they were already tired when they arrived in the Netherlands to play at one of their favourite venues in the world and to record this show for a potential live release. They knew they weren't going to be in their very best shape, but they also knew they were going to give it 200% ... because that's what they always do! Furthermore, being a 100% independent band means they have to take care of gig bookings, tour management, driving, setting up their gear every night, packing up, van loading, promoting, designing visual materials ... Oh and occasionally, they also play music and try to entertain everybody at gigs. So, hats off to all of them involved pulling off a great show every time!
Buy it at their concerts or available websites. 100% musical quality guaranteed!!!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Dave Smith)
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