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Saga - Contact - Live In Munich (DVD) CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.58 | 12 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Wow, having won this DVD through ProgArchives made me curious to check out what had happened to this band, since I more or less lost contact with them around their fifth album or their In Transit live album. I had a good idea that the group had remained fairly true to themselves and their ideals, even if they were always too commercial for me and certainly even more too "pop music" for me. This target was achievable precisely because they were fairly pop and had an 80's sound before the 80's had started, but it also helped that the original 5 line-up remained together until 2003 when drummer Steve Negus left. Some four years later, it is now lead-singer Michael Sadler's bowing out that the group is facing, and the group chose to cap this off in the heart of their stronghold, Munich, Germany.

As a teen in Toronto in the late 70's, there were a few bands that were blossoming out of the city, Rush, Max Webster, Triumph, Goddo, Zon and Saga, and were grasping for an international status. While Rush and Triumph achieved that fairly quickly, things looked to be stalling for the others, of which for Webster, it seemed to be all too unjustified. Then one day, we discovered that Saga was headlining major tours in Central Europe and that bands like Styx were opening for them. From that moment onwards, Saga jumped on the occasion and concentrated and build-up on what would become their stronghold. Thus the Sadler farewell concert couldn't have taken place anywhere else but in front of their most (and overly?) loyal fans. If I said overly, it's because it's a characteristic of German fans to keep bands alive enough in Germany, where they might be a spent force elsewhere on the rest of the planet. (ask BJH or MMEB, for example)

So, in front of an already acquired crowd, Saga triumphs easily, even trying to babble whatever German they might have picked-up over 25 years there, although you'd wonder if they ever tried to learn the language, for when I say babble, that's pretty well it. Sadler is not really looking like a rock frontmen anymore, having taken an appearance that most white- collar workers might arbor at home, but since retirement knocks. So for a small two hours, the group will revisit their past, with an expected slant on the first five albums. While it was probably impossible to play all of the fan favorites, they managed a good selection of them, mixed with a selection of 90's and early 00's tracks. Actually it's rather difficult, if you're not all that familiar wall of their albums, to tell which songs date from which era, since they pretty well all sound so Saga. And if you're a moderate fan, this grows rapidly irritating, being bombarded with the same old sounds.

Of course the group could not avoid the early classic like Humble Stance, You're Not Alone or Don't Be Late (but there are a few missing here), but they concentrated them for the second part of the show, preferring to dish out mid-career songs in the first part, a bit as if they were a bit fillers. The aptly-named Droemer (I think) replaces Negus well enough that you don't notice it, while the Crichton bros are equal to themselves, Ian's guitars ranging from pure pop to metallic riffing with a few dazzling solos at stakes), but it's clearly Sadler's show, and mo-one would dare stealing it. So the concert ends in the inevitable and unglorified triumph with two encores that simply nailed the coffin shut.

The double DVD object's presentation is a bit sparse (no booklet, for ex) and the second disc is much less successful, showing another show, with some iffy sound conditions and the usual needless stuff, unless a confirmed fan. Which brings up the question about its essential-ness?.. Well unconditionals will find it essential; casuals will find a good useful show, although they might prefer an older prestation, and for aloof fans (like me but multiplied by 20 or 50) that were ever really thinking of one day buying up Cds to replace long lost vinyls, this DVD is wayayayay more than enough; I rounded up objectively this rating to the upper third star.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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