Vanden Plas - Spirit Of Live

Year of Release: 2000
Label: InsideOut Music America
Catalog Number: IOMACD 2018
Format: CD
Total Time: 72:07:00

Vanden Plas have a monster sound, as demonstrated on this excellent release from 2000, recorded live at the Elys?e Montmarte in Paris, France. And unless there's been some studio enhancements, the band deliver the goods in a near spotless performance that should blow you away. Spirit Of Live is definitely spirited, that's for sure. I can say this impressed the hell out of me. For most of the CD, you will experience pulse pounding excitement - it can't be helped, the band play with that much vitality and life. Sure, a lot has to do with the genre, the prominence of drums (Andreas Lil) and bass (Torsten Reichert) in the mix, screaming keyboards (G?nter Werno), sharp and soaring guitar leads (Stephan Lil) and the amazing vocals of Andy Kuntz. And when the chugging combo of Lil, Reichert, and Lil gets going? well, you're ensared, being pleasantly pummeled.

Usually a live release either suffers from poor sound, or the vocalist just can't carry off a live performance, or the performance itself is lackluster for one reason or another. None of that here - and that must be underscored. I mean, there is a certain quality to the recorded sound that tells you its live (aside from the audience), which means there isn't a pristine studio clarity, but none of this affects one's listening enjoyment. And Andy Kuntz' vocals come through loud and clear, and surprisingly very true to the recorded output; and even when not, it's a case of being caught up in a moment or emotion - such as the explosive ending to "How Many Tears" (what range!). The performances do seem just a bit quicker than their studio counterparts, but they don't sound hurried (There is a little squeaky feedback at points on "Into The Sun", but it's brief). Can you tell yet that I like this live release?

Included on Spirit Of Live are various selections from the band's recorded output through to, but not including, Beyond Daylight. One will even find new compositions that didn't end up on Beyond Daylight, "Journey To Paris" and "Spirit Of Life." "Soul Survives" (Colour Temple) comes across wonderfully, from the keyboard intro to the powerful middle section, the chugging of guitars so tight and in time, in lockstep with the drums. Killer performance. Reichert's bass is so very much present here, very much the lethal weapon. But, as I said, the entire sound is monster - in your face, commanding attention. And an authoritative performance of "How Many Days" is rendered here in a hybrid English/French version - a French version appeared as a bonus track on the (or rather, a French edition of The God Thing (Kuntz sings in French again towards the end of "Far Off Grace," accompanied only by Werno on keys). Stephan Lil rules on guitar, simple as that. While Kuntz encourages the audience, psyching them up, Werno plays a moody, atmospheric keyboard passage.

It's Werno that gets the spotlight in "Journey To Paris" first playing a distorted and wild keyboard solo, and then following this with a particularly beautiful, rich, and lyrical piano-like passage (fantastic). This segues into "Spirit Of Life" where, over more piano-like keys, Lil soars on guitar. It's not long however before the rest of the band come chugging along, grinding out a meaty morsel in a piece that seems just on the verge of testing each member on how fast they can play, and stay together and make it sound more than just riffing. If you can speak at all when they're through? well, you are simply left awestruck? though they really ease you into it with some fleet fingered soloing from Lil. And that's only half-way through the set.

Killer (yes, that word again) interplay on "You Fly," demonstrating again just how tight this band is live? any tighter and they might implode. But it also demonstrates something that just proves why Vanden Plas are a cut above - texture. They can go from a heavy chug to something more subtle, lyrical.

In contrast to the rest of the album, "Far Off Grace" seems slower paced, and a little thick in sound, the bottom end much lower, giving it a "dirtier" sound, the grind of guitars and bass and drums just a little bit grittier. Though, on the other hand, Lil's guitar solo sings quite clearly, as does Werno's keys as he accompanies Kuntz on the mellow interlude.

The set ends breathlessly with ? um ? a killer version of "Rainmaker," featuring Patrick Rondat on an amazing lead guitar. This ends the album on a very dramatic note, leaving one exhausted (especially if you've, uh? been singing along). And if the crowd were chanting "Vanden Plas" at the beginning with some enthusiasm, it is even more so at the end? as if they are hailing their conquering heroes.

Summary: one of the best live releases I've heard, no question.

There are two versions of this album, as the European version (IOMCD068, total time: 71:34) has "Don't Miss You," and "Kiss Of Death" (with Don Dokken as guest) and doesn't include "You Fly"

(US version) I Can See (4:26) / Into The Sun (7:05) / Soul Survives (9:52) / How Many Tears (10:37) / Journey To Paris (3:08) / Spirit Of Life (4:28) / Iodic Rain (6:01) / You Fly (9:22) / Far Off Grace (9:50) / Rainmaker (8:38)

(EUR version) I Can See (4:26) / Into The Sun (7:05) / Soul Survives (9:52) / How Many Tears (10:37) / Don't Miss You (3:50) / Journey To Paris (3:08) / Spirit Of Life (4:28) / Iodic Rain (6:11) / Far Off Grace (9:51) / Kiss Of Death (5:28) / Rainmaker (8:38)

Andy Kuntz - vocals
Stephan Lill - guitars
Torsten Reichert - bass
G?nter Werno - keyboards
Andres Lill - drums


Patrick Rondat - lead guitar ('Rainmaker')
Don Dokken - vocals ('Kiss Of Death')

Colour Temple (1994)
Accult (1996)
The God Thing (1997)
Far Off Grace (1999)
Spirit Of Live (2000)
Beyond Daylight (2002)
Colour Temple/AcCult (special edition) (2002)
Christ 0 (2006)
The Seraphic Clockwork (2010)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: March 7th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 935
Language: english


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