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(90:00 DVD, Metal Mind Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Open Your Eyes 2. Close 3. Fool 4. Maybe 5. River’s Gone Dry 6. Problem 7. Beautiful 8. Flow 9. Your Story 10. Don’t Walk Away in Silence 11. Living in the Moonlight 12. Is It Over Bonus material: - Interview with Wojtek Szadkowski - Interview with Robin Additional material: - Biography - Photo Gallery LINEUP: Wojtek Szadkowski – drums Jarek Michalski – bass Robin – vocals Michal Kirmuc – guitars Sarhan Kubeisi – guitars Krzysiek Palczewski – keyboards
Prolusion. STRAWBERRY FIELDS is one of the bands instigated and led by drummer and composer Wojtek Szadkowski, best known for his past tenure in Collage and his present in Satellite. This new project was set up following a chance encounter with Marta "Robin" Kniewska, and their debut album "Rivers Gone Dry" was released in 2009. "Live Strawberry Fields" is their second production, a live DVD recording of a concert held in April 2011.
Analysis. Metal Mind Records have established themselves as a quality provider of live DVD recordings, and "Live Strawberry Fields" is yet another product that strengthens their reputation in this area. These DVD's may be a bit similar in construction, using and utilizing a set pattern, but apart from that detail, one most likely noticed solely by writers, I might add, it's difficult to pinpoint any weaknesses as such for the DVD production itself. The audio part of the package is to my ears of the usual high quality one expect from the label, crystal clear, capturing instrumentalists and lead vocalist Robin to perfection. The image quality is just about as good, clear and clean shots without any distortions in sharpness or color, which are the vital ingredients of a good live DVD. As usual, there are a number of cameras in action, and we're treated to a number of different angles throughout the 75 or so minutes that the concert itself lasts. Full stage shots, overheads, and scenes focusing on the individual musicians are plentiful. There are also a few shots of the crowd, an element I've missed on some previous DVD productions by Metal Mind and which perhaps might be expanded ever so slightly, if for no other reason than for the benefit of the crowd members themselves, as it'll always be a treat for the avid fan to be able to see himself or herself on film. But this is a very minor issue, and one I suspect the good folks at Metal Mind are conscious of. With a good looking female lead vocalist as a part of the band, it's rather natural that the focus is on her throughout this performance. She's an able vocalist, and it's obvious that she enjoys being the front woman of this band. Not the natural crowd pleaser and entertainer verbally, but her use of body language and facial expressions are intriguing throughout. Especially in the case of the latter, from subtle flirtations to what appears top be a starkly personal and emotional conclusion with final track Is It Over. Robin comes across as a charming person and personality, and one might hope that she'll be able to continue her endeavors with this band for a good few years more. The instrumentalists in Strawberry Fields are experienced musicians, all of them, and their performance is if the highest standard throughout. Vocalist Robin is arguably the least perfect, but then limited to occasional subtle details that most probably won't even notice. The bonus features are limited, but interesting, especially the 20 minute long interview with Wojtek Szadkowski, while the 5 minute long accompanying interview with Robin is far less revealing, naturally enough. It all adds up to a fine DVD production, as long as this band's blend of classic rock and progressive rock is to your fancy. Not the most challenging music around, but for those who tend to enjoy accessible art rock emphasizing melodies and harmonies this is a band that should be of interest. And those who felt their debut album was promising but with an unfulfilled potential might want to know that the arrangements for many of the songs have been expanded in this live setting.
Conclusion. Live DVDs tend to have fans of the band in question as their key audience. And those with affection for Strawberry Fields should be pleased to know that this live DVD is an excellent production, well worth acquiring if they have an interest in this type of products. And as the songs have been further developed since the recording of their initial studio album, avid fans will probably want to experience the DVD for that reason alone.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: July 17, 2012
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