Lindh Project, Pär - Live In Iceland

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Crimsonic
Catalog Number: CLSCD 107
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:31:00

This live release from the Pär Lindh Project was recorded in November 2001 in Iceland and released last year. Along with Lindh on the Hammond C3 and various keyboards, PLP features William Kopecky (Kopecky) on bass, John Hermansen on guitar, Nisse Bielfeld on drums and vocals and Magdalena Hagberg on vocals, violin, and keyboard. Most of the pieces included on the CD are from their then latest album Veni, Vidi, Vici, the exceptions being renditions of Prokofiev's "Romeo And Juliet," here called "Montagues & Capulets," and "Charleston Rag" by Eubie Blake.

Knowing how influenced by Keith Emerson and ELP Lindh is, it shouldn't surprise you to hear that Lindh's style is very much like Emerson's even outside the ELP context. After the brief "Adagio (Intro)" comes the heavy, dramatic "Gradus Ad Parnassum" which features the vocals of both Hagberg and Bielfeld, the latter of whom bellows his vocals rather than sings them, sounding a bit like Grover (Seseme Street). At about 15-plus minutes, this is the longest piece, though given the various points of soloing, seems to be more a closing track than an opening, but then if you're getting the audience warmed up? well, maybe introducing everyone at the start is the way to go. It is a tour-de-force piece with a variety of textures and moods, especially where those solos are concerned. And if you don't like Bielfeld as a singer, you will love him as a drummer? powerful and punchy, he doesn't so much play as attack, but cunningly so. In the lighter piano (or piano-like) tones of Lindh, by the way, I also hear a bit of a Wakeman influence.

"Veni, Vidi, Vici" is a wonderful and dynamic piece of music, filled both with grandeur and subtlety. Here and nearly throughout, Kopecky plays fat, loose and tart bass lines (I think of Levin) - though on "Hymn" his presence is more subtle. During "The Premonition" one fears he might yank those strings right from the instrument, he seems to be playing them so hard ? and in a rhythm that gets very close to that famous bass line in Genesis' "Supper's Ready" or later used in Marillion's "Grendel" - it is certainly played with same muscular authority. In fact, "The Premonition" is heavy all around, from the crushing drums and percussion and the chunky keyboards. Listen carefully and you can hear Hagberg's violin buried behind the keys. Hermansen's guitar seems almost absent until he starts soloing ? at one point nearly buried beneath Lindh's bubbling organ solo.

What's evident from the get-go is that the quintet are enjoying themselves and it comes through in their performance. Hagberg's finest vocal performance is during the lyrical "The River Of Tales" - voice and piano only. There is a particular female voice to prog and Hagberg has it - like Heather Findlay (Mostly Autumn), Sylvia Erichsen (White Willow), etc. It can be strong yet lilting often at the same time. Saying this is her finest performance here isn't to suggest that otherwise her performances aren't good, they are, though are a few times where they don't work for me. Here they just seem thoroughly "spot on."

"Montagues & Capulets" is presented here in both dark and light tones, where drums and bass provide the dark, keyboards provide the light. At first, I found this presentation to rather weak, compared to the beefier ELP version on Black Moon. That was until after I had heard it several times, realizing that Lindh's was probably more faithful, and more detailed, using those shadings as mentioned above. It is a richer rendition, and even if it's not faithful, it certainly is much more dynamic. Following this up with the "Charleston Rag" serves as a break from the heavier music that comes before and after - it is an intermission, of sorts. Of course, what follows "River?" is the very heavy "Juxtapoint" where Bielfeld and Kopecky play with metal ferocity.

Production-wise it is good, though it hasn't produced out any of its live feel - which is a good thing. Though this is Lindh's show (so to speak), the balance of instruments puts his keys up front when the instrument that seems to be playing a lead line should be more up front. (as with Hagberg's violin and Hermansen's guitar in "The Premonition"). Whether this was due to poor live mixing or later mixing in prepping the performance for release I don't know. Vocals get their due - certain Hagberg's - and both drums and bass, but these are both played dominatingly by Bielfeld and Kopecky. The acoustics and how the voices are heard clearly tell you this was recorded live. That the audience is absent during the performances shouldn't surprise you, as I've noticed this characteristic among prog audiences - that like classical and theater audiences, the audience is quiet and attentive. I often wonder if it bothers the musicians, especially those that have rock star dreams, that their audience is attentive rather than screaming and yelling like the rock and pop audiences. And then I remind myself of who the audience actually is (said with a smiley emoticon, of course).

The one question I have is, why include the lengthy applause if there's no track following? Certainly including just enough applause to show how appreciative the Icelandic audience was would be warranted, but given that this applause lasts more than a few seconds (I didn't time it, but let's say 10-15 seconds), then just cuts off as the CD ends? well? perhaps I'm being nitpicky, but it seems a little? excessive?

This aside, it is a good, though not perfect, high-energy live release. That it doesn't represent the entire PLP oeuvre doesn't make it the definitive live release, and not having heard Live In America yet, I can't say how it compares to it, but I did enjoy hearing it and liked enough to seek out the studio album it documents.

Adagio (Intro) (0:38) / Gradus Ad Parnassum (15:07) / Veni Vidi Vici (8:28) / Tower Of Thoughts (5:14) / Montagues & Capulets (by Prokoviev) (3:33) / Charleston Rag (by Eubie Blake) (2:33) / The River Of Tales (3:14) / Juxtapoint (4:10) / Hymn (4:45) / The Premonition (8:49)

Pär Lindh - Hammond C3, keyboards
William Kopecky - bass
Magdalena Hagberg - vocals, violin, keyboard
Nisse Bielfeld - drums, percussion
John Hermansen - guitar

Gothic Impressions (1994/2004)
Rondo (EP) (w/ Bjørn Johansson) (1995)
Bilbo (w/ Bjørn Johansson) (1996)
Mundus Incompertus (1997)
Live In America (1999)
Veni Vidi Vici (2001)
Live In Iceland (2002)
Dreamsongs From Middle Earth (w/ Bjørn Johansson) (2004)
Live In Poland (2008)
Time Mirror (2011)

Live In Poland (DVD) (2008)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin SE

Added: June 26th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 684
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]