Glass Hammer - Lex Live

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Arion Resources
Catalog Number: SR7112
Format: DVD
Total Time: 122:00:00

Don?t get this wrong, as although the same line-up is used as for the band?s legendary NEARfest appearance on 29th June 2003 and the recently released CD, the footage on this DVD has been recorded during another gig. Strangely enough, the liner notes on the DVD don?t really give a clue as to where it was recorded but it surely concerns another gig although most of the material played is the same. A look at the website, buried deep in the news page, reveals that there were plans to film their September 22, 2003 show at the Rhythm and Brews in downtown Chattanooga, TN.

Although I can say I live in a part of the world where we have a lot of prog concerts happening, it is not logical to see a US band here that on stage alone has eight members in the band. Add to that the number of technicians and roadies and you all understand that from a financial point of view, it isn?t likely that Glass Hammer will be playing in Europe for some time to come. Maybe if this DVD sells a couple of hundred thousand copies this might change, but for the time being this DVD is the best a lot of us will get into seeing the band perform live. But hey, if you are lucky to have one of those huge plasma screens together with surround sound, it?s as if Glass Hammer is giving a private concert in your front room!

Compared to the already mentioned live CD, this DVD contains eight Glass Hammer originals, whilst the live CD contains two more songs in the form of "Cowboys And Mendians" and the Kansas classic "Portrait (He Knew)," as performed together with Rich Williams. As this guest collaboration doesn?t feature on the DVD, although it might be a strong selling point, to me that?s another proof that this DVD was indeed recorded at another location and on another day, rather than at NEARfest. What strikes me, however, is the ease with which the musicians play their difficult parts. You don?t need to be an expert to hear that the Glass Hammer's music is not an easy form of music, but every single musician on stage plays his parts with incredible ease. With songs pulled from their Perelandra (1), Chronometree (2) and Lex Rex (5) albums, Glass Hammer surely put together a fantastic setlist, which for every prog lover still was way too short. As this band is getting better and better all the time, maybe it was right to put the emphasis on their then latest output Lex Rex, as they would probably put more tracks from Shadowlands in, should they perform right now.

Not only do they all master their respective instruments, most of the band also sing blending several harmonies into a stream of progressive rock highlights. Watching them on stage it all looks so simple whilst the balance of the sound is perfect, letting in every single detail of the complex music. The slightly different timbres of each of the female singers also adds to the originality of the music (getting close to Starcastle at times) whilst from a visual point of view, it?s always nice to have some gorgeous girls in the band (just look at the guys as proof!). But when one talks about visuals, I do have to mention the fact that no visuals are used to enhance this concert. If you didn?t know you could easily think that this DVD was recorded in the band?s rehearsal room. Most of the band is dressed casually, whilst there?s no backdrop, no moving images, no dry ice effects, nothing spectacular happens with the lights, no fireworks, but just clean, honest but terrific music. We also don?t get to see the audience, so this might well have been recorded in a big shed in the back garden of one of the musicians with the applause overdubbed at a later stage (just kidding)!

The best visuals come with the drum solo at the beginning of "Cup Of Trembling." I?m sure even drummer Matt Mendians didn?t know he could pull those faces! In fact, it wouldn?t surprise me if his drum solo is called "Cowboys And Mendians," which is only credited on the live CD but not on the DVD, which if this is correct, means that only the Rich Williams track on the live CD is different than the DVD material. For "Chronos Deliverer," guitarist Walter Moore switches to keyboards, bass player Steve Babb also turns to keyboards, Eric Parker switches from guitar to bass, whilst all attention goes to Fred Schendel, who leaves behind his many keyboards in favour of lap steel guitar. The final track "Heaven" does not have the choir right at the very end, which it did have at NEARfest, but the girls do their best to make sure that the backing vocal section sounds equally as nice.

The bonus section consists of four separate items. First on is what?s called "behind the scenes" where we see snippets of a rehearsal way back in may 2003, we witness a sound check, whilst Fred Schendel and Steve Babb show and explain to us their respective gear. In the "NEARfest 2003" section we see the band rehearsing in an acoustic way in their hotel room, whilst one of the female singers is reading the NEARfest programme on the page which highlights High Wheel. There?s also a bit of video supplied by fans from the actual performance at NEARfest including the extra choir. The next part was recorded on 1st February 2004 at the Road House Hotel in Chattanooga, which was where the Glass Hammer family got together to celebrate the release of this very DVD. The event even had its own Glass Hammer cake (now this would be the ideal GH memorabilia to sell through the band?s website! After all, who needs T-shirts if he/she can get cake?) and is filled with short interviews with all the members. The final part in this bonus section is the video for "Tales Of The Great Wars," which I don?t really see being aired on daytime MTV at all, but which nevertheless gives a nice insight into the band?s unique world.

This DVD most certainly illustrates the craftmanship of Glass Hammer, next to the fact that this band probably rates as one of the finest in America where prog is concerned. For a long time the media had us believe that there was only Neal Morse and Spock?s Beard in the States, but surely Glass Hammer has to be seen as equally as important. Great band, great music, great DVD, but sadly not enough visuals to make it unique. So at least there?s one little topic they can work on!

Chronotheme / Tales Of The Great Wars / One King / Further Up, Further In / Cup Of Trembling / Chronos Deliverer / When We Were Young / Heaven

Fred Schendel - keyboards, lap steel guitar, vocals
Steve Babb - bass, keyboards, bass pedals, vocals
Walter Moore - guitars, keyboards, vocals
Susie Bogdanowicz - vocals
Flo Paris - vocals
Bethany Warren - vocals
Matt Mendians ? drums

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: Symphonic Prog

Origin US

Added: September 5th 2004
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

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Language: english


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