K2 - Live In Hollywood

(DVD 2008, 90:00, Umbrella Records)

The tracks:
  1- Infinite Voyage
  2- Mirror Of The Spirits
  3- The Edge Of Light
  4- Forest Cathedral/Freefall
  5- Cloak Of Antiquity
  6- Beware Of Darkness

K2 Website & samples       

Back in 2005, I asked the BM-readers if they were ready to step into the world of ancient Egypt. Those words were my introduction to the fantastic Book Of Dead album by the American prog rockers K2 (K Squared). An album that probably had not been made if the mother of bass and keyboard player Ken Jacquess had not take her son to the King TuT exhibition in California. She taught her son about ancient civilizations. This early influence formed the basic inspiration for what later became a real masterpiece on CD. The whole prog community raved about K2. I gave the Book Of Dead the highest rating possible and the album got a well-deserved high position in our ‘Cream Of The Crop’ section. We even wrote a special about this release in our series ‘The Story Behind’. In that interview, the musicians behind the project told me that it would be cool to perform this album on a live stage. Well, the result of this live tour can now be seen on Live In Hollywood.

It is obvious that the live line-up differs from the line-up on the studio album, because singer Shaun Guerin died unexpectedly after the studio recordings. Josh Gleason replaced him. From time to time Gleason plays Peter Gabriel’s role in a Genesis tribute band, so his voice sounds very similar to the voice of Guerin on the original recording. While watching him performing the material from the Book Of Dead I realized that he could not make me forget Shaun completely. Ken’s friend Karl Johnson, from Ken’s other band Atlantis, replaced the original guitarist Alan Holdsworth. I must admit that Karl did a great job. I didn´t miss Mr. Holdsworth at all and that is a big compliment. Karl very well copied some of the violin parts of Yvette Devereaux on guitar as well. Ken was very lucky that K2’s original drummer and keyboard player were willing to help him with the live performances. Ken told me that a drummer is very important for him to work with as a bass player. He and Doug Sanborn really formed a team in the studio and that can also be said about the team spirit on stage. Thank God, Spock’s Beard keyboard player Ryo Okumoto could find enough time to show that he can play all the MiniMoog parts with great virtuosity on a live stage. Okumoto takes a lot of pleasure in playing on a live stage especially during the live version of his own composition Freefall. The fact, that he lives in the same neighbourhood as Ken Jacquess was probably the main reason to participate in the K2 live band. It just cost him little time to join the rehearsals. Shawn Gordon shot a part of those rehearsals showing that the musicians were making fun while playing the material of the Book Of Dead. We get a glimpse of a real mellotron, owned by Ryo and Greg Walker. I don´t know why he didn’t use the mellotron during the Hollywood gig. Strictly speaking, I didn´t miss the instrument at all, because Okumoto used very good samples instead. The one hour and ten minutes long Hollywood show starts off with the first three chapters from the album. On the intro of Chapter 1: Infinite Voyage, Ken plays some of the string synthesizer parts as well, but he doesn’t play his solo on bass guitar from Chapter 4: Aten live. Instead, you get a live version of the Atlantis piece Forest Cathedral followed by the here fore mentioned Freefall. The band finishes the regular set with the final Chapter 5: Cloak Of Antiquity. It is a nice surprise to see K2 perform the George Harrison track Beware Of Darkness during the last encore. We can enjoy the prog version arranged by Spock’s Beard for their Beware Of Darkness album. Of course, you cannot compare Josh Gleason’s voice to the voice of Neal Morse, but for me it is good enough. That also applies for the quality of the sound and the images. It is not filmed in High Definition with many cameras, nor do you get an excellent DTS surround sound, but I enjoyed it all anyway. For me, it is always a pleasure to see a band perform strong material in spite of the quality. The new music written for the DVD menu indicates that Ken Jacquess is still working on new material. In due course, we can expect a new K2 album (Black Garden). I hope it will contain sheer prog bliss just like this DVD.

***+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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