In 2011 the Welsh progressive rock band Magenta released their fifth studio album Chameleon (see review). Personally I found this album very difficult to digest; it took a number of spins before the music began to grow on me. As with more albums they recorded in the past, like Home (2005) and Metamorphosis (2008), most songs have to be heard on a live stage. People who have seen the band perform know that Magenta are an amazing live act. It almost seems as if their music explodes when they play live in front of an audience.
Once more I noticed this while listening to their latest album Live: On Our Way To Who Knows Where. The music recorded throughout Europe in 2011 and 2012 sounds excellently. Obviously this double album contains songs taken from Chameleon and in my opinion they sound much better than the original studio versions. The four songs Glitterball, Guernica, Raw and Red have much more drive and groove. Thanks to the new rhythm section consisting of Dan Nelson (bass) and Steve Roberts (drums) these songs have a strong live feel. They both create a tight foundation allowing Rob Reed (keyboards, backing vocals) and Chris Fry (guitars, backing vocals) to play strong solos on the synthesizers and the electric guitar. Christina Booth's vocals are crystal clear as always. On stage she's a strong entertainer who often starts a conversation with her fellow-musicians or with the audience.
Aside from the songs from their latest studio effort, songs from other albums could be enjoyed as well. I won't mention all tracks but only a number of pieces that deserve some attention like the twenty-minute piece Revolutions Medley. This epic piece was performed within the scope of the tenth anniversary of the band's debut. The entire medley sounds superb and can hardly be done any better. That also applies to the stunning versions of Gluttony and Pride. As a kind of bonus the second disc contains When We Were Young, a new studio recording. It's a great four-minute ballad and a nice way to let their fans know that they're working on the sixth studio album. According to the new track it promises a return to the musical approach and the sound of Seven (2004). To me this is the best album Magenta recorded to date! The new album will be released later on and I sincerely hope that it's easier to digest than Chameleon. Until then Live: On Our Way To Who Knows Where will make a number of spins in my player since it's an excellent live album and highly recommended to people who already own another live album by Magenta like Another Time... Another Place (2004) or Live At The Point (2008).
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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