Glass Hammer - Live At NEARfest

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Arion
Catalog Number: SR1121
Format: CD
Total Time: 72:45:00

It's probably fitting that on this live release, Fred Schendel's swirling, grinding, growling keyboards remind me of Kansas - Kansas guitarist Rich Williams joined the band on stage for this performance, recorded at 2003's NEARfest.

Glass Hammer played most of their then-recent release Lex Rex, including an adapted "Greetings..." which introduces the band to the stage. They begin their set with "Chronotheme" from Chronometree, and sprinkle a few other non-Lex tracks in, including another from Chronometree, and "Heaven" from Perelandra. And, as mentioned above, Rich Williams was a guest, playing on Kansas' "Portrait (He Knew)" - and it is elements from this track that resonate throughout the album, and that mostly in Fred Schendel's keys.

With the chance to listen to this performance over and over, and closely - versus the in- the-moment experience of "being there" - you discover nuances to the performance... here things you may not have heard live. And if you weren't there, well... you get to hear this as we had hoped to at the time. The sound coming to the mixing board was much crisper than what was heard in the house, so this is better experience. Not to say that Glass Hammer's performance was actually bad and much was improved in the production of the disk, just that the sound board captured more of what Glass Hammer played. What plagued the live set live was that Flo Paris, Bethany Warren and Susie Bogdanowicz's mics weren't on - or not on often - which left holes. I don't remember now at what points the vocals were absent, so it's really no use me one, point it out at all and two, telling you where (or if) it's been fixed. What I also didn't hear at NF, the massive choir, is heard here, so perhaps it wasn't the mics but the out-front sound that wasn't turned on that afternoon.

Along with Schendel on keys - he also plays lap steel and provides vocals, there co-horts Steve Babb on bass, keyboards and vocals; Walter Moore on guitar and vocals (Right now, I'm listening to a fiery guitar solo on "Further Up, Further In."); then-new drummer Mike Mendians, his solo spot being "Cowboys And Mendians;" and Eric Parker on acoustic guitar and bass. And what do you get - a rich and swirling symphonic prog experience that, as Tom Karr says in his review, sweeps you along from the get go. Babb's vocals are better than okay but not great; Moore does a fairly good job on "Portrait." What sparkles the most, the keyboards. These are given the most space in the sound, with Mendian's drums not far behind. But that doesn't mean their absent, but... I'd say it's all about the keys and the rest give the keys something to play to or against. Of course, we get guitars in the mix too, and not only where I mentioned above - and not just in the Kansas track. I'll tell you know, after the performance, this was the song rattling through my head; after listening to this CD, this is the song that rattles through my head... ah, but I've been listening to it in its original form for twenty-something years now, so...

It's hard to review this CD and not just repeat what I said in my review of NEARfest itself, at least on the details... The important thing to note for those who were there - it sounds better than what it seemed at the time. For those who weren't but are Glass Hammer fans, this is not one to overlook as they gave a pretty darn good performance (and you didn't have to sit through technical glitches or delays so you get to bypass pre-gig frustrations. And for those that don't fall into the previous groups, this is one not to overlook, as you can get a very good idea of what Glass Hammer are all about from this release though it doesn't tap into their entire career (when they headline a festival and have a longer set time, then we'll probably hear something from every album...).

Released jointly with NEARfest Records (NFR 0003)

Greetings Ladies And Gentlemen (1:36) / Chronotheme (5:06) / Tales Of The Great Wars (10:26) / One King (6:12) / Further Up, Further In (14:28) / Cowboys And Mendians (2:42) / A Cup Of Trembling (8:03) / Portrait (He Knew) (6:27) / Chronos Deliverer (5:16) / When We Were Young (8:14) / Heaven (4:08)

Walter Moore - electric guitar, keyboards, vocals
Eric Parker - acoustic guitar, bass guitar
Steve Babb - bass guitar, keyboards, bass pedals, vocals
Fred Schendel - keyboards, lap steel guitar, vocals
Flo Paris - vocals
Bethany Warren - vocals
Susie Bogdanowicz vocals
Matt Mendians - drums
The Glass Hammer Choir - Patt Christiansen, Laura Dent, Beth Folland, John Galgano, Tom Galgano, Shellyn Ganger, Christine Holz, Tim Kubit, Janie Lindenbaum, Sean McFee, Brian Neilsen, Jen Porta, Mike Rumpza, Stephanie Rumpza, Karl Schendel, Jon Yarger
April Bower - Choral Director, Choral Arrangements

Journey To The Dunadan (1994)
Perelandra (1996)
Live And Revived (1997)
On To Evermore (1997)
Chronometree (2000)
The Middle Earth Album (2001)
Lex Rex (2002)
Shadowlands (2004)
Live At NEARFest (2004)
The Inconsolable Secret (2005)
Culture Of Ascent (2007)
Three Cheers For The Broken-hearted (2009)
If (2010)
One (via GH only) (2010)
Cor Cordium (2011)
Perilous (2012)
The Inconsolable Secret (Deluxe Edition) (2013)
Ode To Echo (2014)
Breaking Of The World (2015)
Double Live (2015)
Valkyrie (2016)
Untold Tales (2017)
Mostly Live In Italy (2018)
Chronomonaut (2018)

Lex Live (DVD) (2004)
Live At Belmont (DVD) (2006)
Live At The Tivoli (DVD) (2008)

Genre: Symphoninic Prog

Origin US

Added: September 9th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1426
Language: english


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