The Philadelphia Experiment from the UK-based progressive rock band Frost*, is not a scientific project to make our world a better place. No, this is a live recording from a concert they gave in Philadelphia, USA. However, this release indeed would make our world a better place when you enjoy the music. Itíll give you enough love to share with others. Well, enough of this crap and letís focus on the album. Itís a kind of Ďbigger brotherí compared to what Frost* released at the end of 2009: Frost*FestLive (see review). Apart from the live recordings it also featured The Forget You Song, a brand-new studio track.
The Philadelphia Experiment is in fact a long version of Frost*FestLive containing a brand-new studio track called The Dividing Line. Itís the full display of a typical Frost*-song featuring the drum parts of Andy Edwards who recently was replaced by Graig Blundell. It doesnít feature the bass lines of John Jowitt; he probably had other things to do at the time of the recordings. However, the strong musical contributions of Jem Godfrey (keyboards, guitar, ebow and vocals) and John Mitchell (guitar) make it easy to forget Jowitt. A lot has been said in the review of Frost*FestLive about the concert of the bandís performance at the RosFest Festival, held at the Keswick Theater at Glenside, Philadelphia, May 2nd 2009. This show was something special indeed, so a double album of the same performance features more progressive rock songs of course.
Frost* commences with a short, but funny intro in which the band get a weird introduction. Next they kick off with an excellent version of Hyperventilate. † As I said in the review of Frost*FestLive, Spockís Beardís Nick DíVirgilio keeps the rhythm going on this track. After this awesome piece, more great songs follow from the bandís two studio recordings, Milliontown and Experiment In Mass Appeal. Of course, I tell you nothing new by saying John Mitchell is a great guitarist, but at the end of Black Light Machine he tortures his instrument in a nasty way. In spite of that, for me it was one of the many musical highlights on this live document. In the other review I stated that Jem Godfreyís not only an outstanding musician, but also a great storyteller and entertainer. Just before Pocket Sun starts, he explains to the audience what the lyrics are all about. I may not forget to mention Jemís outstanding keyboard controlled voice effect which you can hear at the beginning of Snowman and throughout other parts of this piece.
The fine ballad Saline and the up-tempo tune Dear Dead Days, both taken from Experiment In Mass Appeal, were the last two songs they recorded for Frost*FestLive. However, this new live album contains some more live goodies. One of them is Milliontown, the brilliant opening tune of the second disc and in my opinion one of the bandís musical highlights. Itís funny to hear that the audience isnít familiar with this epic piece, because several times they start to applaud after a short break. The recording of the live tracks ends with The Other Me, another track from their debut album. The final piece on the second disc is The Dividing Line, the already mentioned new studio track. The Philadelphia Experiment is an incredible live album from a band in great shape. This Frost*-line-up did an amazing job on stage.
At first I thought the additional DVD contains the entire concert, but unfortunately thereís no footage at all of the concert. It only features two documentaries and the 5.1 surround mix of the studio track, which sounds pretty amazing, by the way. ĎAmazingí is not the word I would use for the 45-minute Frost*-report on the making of the gig. We can watch Jem at his home-studio making jokes that are rather boring after a while. When you watch his journals they look interesting at first, but Iíve got no need whatsoever to see them a second time. Only the rehearsals in the USA with Nick DíVirgilio and the meeting with Jordan Rudess got my attention, because the phone tricks that Dream TheaterĎs keyboard player showed to the camera were very funny. However, the second documentary on which you get another glimpse backstage and at Jemís studio isnít funny at allÖ
Fortunately the footage on this DVD didnít have any effect on my final judgment for this release. I just looked at the DVD as an extra: no more, no less. Only the live double CD of the entire concert matters to me and that means that I can only think of one word to describe this double live album: awesome!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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