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(200 min DVD, Metal Mind Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. A Matter of Perspective 2. The Hunger 3. The Whistleblower 4. Mephisto Bridge 5. The Kruhulick Syndrome 6. The Waking Hour 7. Painting by Numbers 8. Hall of Mirrors 9. The Edge of Night 10. USI 11. The Seventh Year 12. Jigsaw 13. Dreams of the Ferryman 14. Ring of Roses Plus - “Live in Holland”: 15. A Matter of Perspective 16. The Hunger 17. The Whistleblower 18. Mephisto Bridge 19. The Kruhulick Syndrome 20. The Waking Hour 21. Painting by Numbers 22. Hall of Mirrors 23. The Edge of Night &: Interview with Clive Nolan and Karl Groom LINEUP: Clive Nolan – vocals; piano Karl Groom – guitars; backing vocals Mike Varty – keyboards; backing vocals Mark Westwood – bass, ac. guitar Nick Harradence – drums
Prolusion. The English ensemble SHADOWLAND is a semi-legendary band that was launched in the second wave of Neo acts that appeared in the '90s, and like many of the other new outfits that were given a chance to release their material at that time this one was signed to the Dutch label SI Music. Composer and keyboardist Clive Nolan had a hand in more than a few of those new acts launched at that time, and the reasons for that are explained in some detail on this DVD. Shadowland was his main band in that time period and from 1992-‘96 it played a score of concerts, released three albums, and then took a break for the next 13 years. "Edge of Night" was issued by the Polish label Metal Mind in the early summer of 2009 and is the first live DVD by this act.
Analysis. Those who have more than a passing interest in live DVDs should be fairly well acquainted with Metal Mind Productions by now – followers of progressive rock in particular. For some years now this company has perfected their recordings of live shows at the Slaski Theater in Katowice, Poland, constantly trying to further enhance their already impressive setup at this location. Several cameras offer up a wide variety of angles and moving shots of the bands performing, good quality lighting effects are carefully utilized and captured on film, and the theater itself comes across as an interesting venue. There's plenty of room on stage, and plenty of room for the various cameras used off stage to capture good shots without disturbing the audience overly much. The image quality is as good as one can expect when making a DVD on a more or less limited budget: sharp images, good coloration and a well balanced saturation. The audio recording is impeccable as well, and both image and audio mix maintain a high standard. Solid craftsmanship through and through, and while one might argue that one DVD is pretty similar to the next, the high quality sees to it that these are interesting productions nonetheless. The main similarities in this ongoing series of live productions will obviously be the performance of the artist in question. In this case we're dealing with a band consisting of highly experienced musicians, and while this particular band has been on an extended hiatus the members most certainly haven't. Clive Nolan and Karl Groom may arguably be called the busiest men in progressive rock, both of them involved in a large number of bands and projects for a good number of years. Keyboardist Mike Varty and drummer Nick Harradence have other bands and projects as well, and while bassist Mark Westwood is new to this edition of Shadowland (in place of Ian Salmon) he is a familiar name to many interested in Neo-progressive rock, with his tenures in acts like Caamora and Neo. In short: it is an experienced crew that hits the stage here, and that experience shows. Nolan is an effective frontman, carefully gesticulating and using subtle body language to keep watching him interesting. Groom, Westwood, Harradence and Varty are all dedicated to their instrumental performances, but know how to add in movements and postures that also makes a connection with the audience: Nothing much and in a subtle manner, but enough to give Shadowland a distinct stage presence. The band comes across as a skilled and tight unit, enjoying the concert and the event from start to finish. The addition of a much simpler recording of Shadowland’s following concert in Holland should make this production even more of a must buy for their fans. The image quality is much poorer, but an almost full additional live set on the DVD does add value to this production anyhow. And the interview adds a few details that should interest fans of Shadowland – like why their breakup in 1996 came to last for 13 years. With first-time live performances of tracks from Shadowland's third studio effort as another treat to their fanbase, the total package offered here should make this disc an essential buy for any fans of this act who are interested in this kind of live concert recording.
Conclusion. A high quality production through and through, "Edge of Night" is an essential purchase for fans of this band and a highly recommended one for those with an interest in the stylistic expression explored by this act. Indeed, the only part of this outing that will limit the potential number of buyers is the type of production itself and the style of music: Live DVDs aren't everybody's cup of tea, nor is Neo-progressive rock. But that's just about the only thing I can point a disapproving finger at on this venture as well.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 11, 2010
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