The Flower Kings -
Live In Europe 2023

(CD 2024, 79:41, Swedish Stereo Sounds)

The tracks:
  1- Garden Of Dreams Medley(12:44)
  2- Big Puzzle(20:38)
  3- The Dream(7:47)
  4- Day For Peace(3:32)
  5- What If God Is Alone(7:10)
  6- Stardust We Are(28:53)


Last year, October 26, I was at The Flower Kings (TFK) gig in Ubach-Palenberg (Germany, see review), where a small crowd witnessed and heard a great show, although Roine Stolt had the flu that evening....

Now, the best Swedish progressive rock band releases a new live album, recorded in the Netherlands called Live In Europe 2023 and the album contains, sad but true.... only six tracks, half of the show I attended in Germany! And actually, that is about the only disappointment regarding this new live album; why did Roine and Co not include the complete show? But the six tracks that you can enjoy are genuinely fitting examples of the bands amazing repertoire, as all tracks are filled with lots of emotion, breathtaking guitar solos, brilliant melodies, and impressive vocals by Hasse Froberg.

Needless to say, the highlights of this album are the two epic songs Big Puzzle (from Back In The World Of Adventures) and Stardust We Are; especially the latter. I cannot get enough of it, as it is packed with indeed brilliant, second to none melodies, awesome keyboards passages by Lalle Larsson, goosebumps guitar solos and finally magical singing by Froberg, especially during the almost "earworm catchy" chorus. Big Puzzle is another TFK gem, filled with amazing guitar work by Stolt and Froberg and although that one also clocks in over twenty minutes it is over in a jiffy; sad but true indeed.
From the bands last album Look At You Now (2023, see review) you can enjoy The Dream and this live version here is extended to about double the length of the studio version as it features an awesome keyboard solo and Stolt's guitar work here is again brilliant, showing that he really is a truly underestimated guitar picker. Unfortunately, one of the "weakest" TFK songs ever, Day For Peace, is also included here, but then again, it only lasts three minutes, so... What If God Is Alone, from Paradox Hotel, is a real surprise to hear again and that one also captures the true TFK spirit, emotion, great music, and philosophical lyrics.

Overall, Live In Europe 2023, is again a MUST have album for TFK fans and true fans of progressive rock music, but if it were up to me, I would have included songs like Church Of Your Heart and Ghost Of The Red Cloud and left out Day For Peace... still the album is doing overtime in my CD player!!

**** Martien Koolen (edited by Dave Smith)

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