The Flower Kings

October 26, 2023
Rock Fabrik, Ubach-Palenberg (Germany)

Actually I was "afraid" that this was going to happen, namely, a very low attendance for this Flower Kings gig here in a rather "unknown" village in Germany; however, the small audience - I would say about 30 people - really enjoyed themselves and were also very enthusiastic and receptive to the music of the "retro" prog rock kings from Sweden.
The Flower Kings on stage
Next to this exceptionally low attendance, Roine Stolt (guitar, vocals) did not feel very well - he had the flu - and so it was a kind of difficult gig for Hasse Fröberg (guitars, vocals), Lalle Larsson (keyboards), Mirko De Maio (drums) and Michael Stolt (bass guitar), but in the end it turned out to be a great evening of Swedish progressive rock music indeed.
Ghost Of The Red Cloud from one of the best Flower Kings albums Stardust We Are (1997), opened the set and the sound in the Rock Fabrik was excellent, although you could hear that Stolt's throat was not as clear as usual... The follow up medley, consisting of Deaf, Numb & Blind and Garden Of Dreams the first three parts, was actually a surprise, as it has been a long time since the FK played songs from the Flower Power album (1999)!
Then it was time for some new material from the album Look At You Now (2023, see review) , kicking off with the single of that album called Beginner's Eyes; a wonderful, very melodic song with a catchy rhythm and splendid guitar solo by Stolt. The first milestone of this evening, at least for me, was the classic FK track Church Of Your Heart from the earlier mentioned Stardust We Are album; brilliantly played and sung by Stolt and Fröberg, giving me goosebumps for the first time this evening.

Roine Stolt Mirko De Maio and Hasse Fröberg Hasse Fröberg

Another surprise was the long epic track Big Puzzle from Back In The World Of Adventures (1995) where Stolt and Fröberg did some excellent guitar work; then it was back to the new album with The Dream (beautiful guitar solo) and the rather "weird" Day For Peace. The latter, beautifully sung by the way, was not really a viable choice to play live as I think it is one the weakest FK tracks ever recorded, but anyway, there is no account for taste, so...
But then, another surprise, as Stolt announced the song What If God Is Alone from the Paradox Hotel album, released in 2006, which was a real treat to hear this evening. Stolt & Co. saved the best for last as the title track of Stardust We Are was announced, the epic from my personal favourite FK album. Clocking in over twenty-five minutes, this is the ultimate FK song ever, so far that is... Stardust We Are has it all, brilliant melodies, fantastic keyboard passages - well done Lalle Larsson - awesome guitar hooks, breathtaking guitar solos - Stolt was at his best here - and finally, superb vocals by Fröberg, especially at the end of this masterpiece, during the chorus, giving me goose bumps for the second time this evening.

The small audience was able to get the Flower Kings back on stage for an encore, being the title track of the Paradox Hotel album; a great ending to a marvellous gig, but why were there no songs from the 2022 album By Royal Decree (see review) or the 2020 album Islands (see review) on the setlist?? Hopefully, next time.

Text & Pictures Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

Setlist TFK:

Ghost Of The Red Cloud
Deaf, Numb & Blind/Garden Of Dreams
Beginner's Eyes
Church Of Your Heart
Big Puzzle
The Dream
Day For Peace
What If God Is Alone
Stardust We Are
Paradox Hotel

Line up TFK:

Roine Stolt:
vocals, guitar
Hasse Froberg:
vocals, guitar
Michael Stolt:
bass guitar
Mirko DeMaio:
Lalle Larsson:

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