Cryptic Vision - Live At RoSFest 2005

Year of Release: 2005
Label: ProgRock Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 00:00:00

Cryptic Vision at RoSFest 2005 (photo: © Stephanie Sollow)So there we were ... sitting in the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville PA, 11.00 on a Sunday morning in May, a little hungover from partying into the early hours the night before, wondering if staying in bed may have been a better option. Personally, my feeling is if you are going to go all that way it's only fair to give all the bands a fair hearing.

I knew very little of Cryptic Vision, and only heard their material for the first time in a friends car on our jaunts between the venue and the hotel.

Live At RoSFest is a document of a large portion of that Sunday morning gig - and I make no apologies whatsoever for saying that the band were a revelation to me. Their influences are primarily Kansas and Yes, and sometimes they have a very 80s AOR feel to them,?but the influences of the various members are so diverse that it would be somewhat uncharitable to merely pigeonhole the band as yet another prog band trading off the names of the greats.

The basic question is - is this a good live album, and a worthy document of the bands live sound?

Unquestionably yes.

For me it succeeds for a couple of reasons - firstly, watching the band play it was quickly obvious that they knew this was a big event for them, having only played 2 gigs prior to RoSFest, and they pulled out all of the stops, put their all into it and worked damn hard. Kudos indeed must go to lead vocalist Todd Plant who really sang his heart out and managed to hit every high note. But let's not forget the rest of the band - Sam Conable is no slouch on bass, effortlessly tackling the intricate nature of the material and with a very pleasing, Squire-like hard edge to his playing; keyboard player John Zahner, adding colour and texture to the songs but able to pull off dazzling solos when the need arises; Tim Keese on guitar giving that hard, rocky edge to the music but ably tackling lightning fast synth?solos with equal dexterity, and last but not least Rick Duncan on drums providing the backbone, and along with Conable's bass, effortlesly providing a very tight, solid rhythm section.

Cryptic Vision at RoSFest 2005 (photo: © Stephanie Sollow)The result of their commitment and determination to pull out all of the stops is that they actually manage to improve on the recorded material, and that's the sign of a band who are committed to what they are doing.

Naturally, you get a large portion of the Moments Of Clarity album, with "Introspection / Contemplation / Grand Design" being played as one, flowing beautifully, with my fave track "Grand Design" being a standout, the band managing to pull off those incredibly complex vocal harmonies with consummate ease. This is often where bands playing this kind of material fall down - it's easy to put it altogether in the studio, but if it cannot be done live and you have to make compromises that end up being detrimental to the material,?you are in trouble.

Then we come to a new track -? the epic, ambitious "In A World," the title track off what will be the bands next studio album. The opening staccato chords remind you of "Grand Design" to a degree, but the song soon takes a left turn into a very jaunty, upbeat instrumental section before settling down to some gentle acoustic piano chords, with Plant once again pulling the stops out on vocals - and a memorable chorus hook does not hurt either.

Then it's off on one of those musical detours again, with a Spanish/Mexican flavoured section complete with "trumpet" sounds and some nifty acoustic guitar from Plant. Zahner also gets to shine here too with some fiery synth solos. You know it's good when you can hear the crowd cheer with delight during a quiet section of the song. Then we hurtle towards the climax courtesy of some stunning guitar work from Keese, and a reprise of the main theme with Plant's soaring vocals bring the whole thing to a rousing finish.

A bit of a breather comes in the shape of "Ascension," Moments Of Clarity's album closer, a somewhat gentler but very appealing and melodic number that shows the bands 80s AOR influences.

Next up is Zahner's keyboard solo - nothing wrong with it, it's not too long, it's a very good solo showcase that show's Zahner's piano skills as well as his dazzling synth work. It's just that personally I am not a huge fan of solos, and would rather have heard another song instead.

But very soon were off rocking again with "Shock Value," one of the more straight(ish) rockers off Moments Of Clarity and a chance for us to move about a bit and shake our heads.

Then we get a couple of nice bonuses which really put the icing on the cake and should definitely make your mind up if you are wondering if this is a worthwhile purchase.

Cryptic Vision at RoSFest (photo: © Duncan N Glenday)First up is the "Progledy," a superbly performed medley of some of the band's favorite prog songs, consisting of excerpts from Spock's Beard's "The Water," Yes' "Yours Is No Disgrace," Kansas' "Song For America," Dream Theater's "Erotomania," Genesis' "Turn It On Again" and ending with ELP's "Karn Evil 9" - whew! I can remember not quite recognising Spock's "The Water" when it kicked off (yes I know, the shame of it!), it's been a few years since I played it - but once I realised what it was, like a lot of the audience I was on my feet, and there we stayed as each successive song in the medley was unveiled - it was prog heaven!

And finally ... the second bonus - the studio version of new track "In A World." Definitely worth having, it benefits from having a different feel to it being a studio recording, but it certainly loses none of it's appeal. Worth noting also that this version also features the band's new guitarist Steve Lamagna.

It would have been nice to have had a double CD with the full 2 hour performance, but I suspect this is something that the band themselves would like to have done but for various reasons were not able to. Oh well, maybe in a few years time when they make it big it will happen.

The new CD In A World should hopefully be out around March; the band have been added to the bill for CalProg this year, and are looking into the possibility of coming to Europe some time this year, too.

Introspective / Contemplation (excerpt) / Grand Design / In A World / Ascension / keyboard solo / Shock Value / Progledy (Medley consisting of

Todd Plant - vocals, guitar, keyboards
Sam Conable - bass, vocals, Taurus pedals
Rick Duncan - drums, percussion
Tim Keese - guitars, vocals
John Zahner - keyboards, vocals

Moments Of Clarity (2003)
'In A World' (single demo)
Live At RoSFest 2005 (2005)
In A World (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: February 5th 2006
Reviewer: John Morley
Artist website:
Hits: 1033
Language: english


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