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The Flower Kings - Meet The Flower Kings - Live Recording 2003 CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars With the shortest track clocking at over eleven minutes, be ready for extremely long pieces of music from TFK. One of their all- time best is the opener of this double CD set (combined with two DVD's for the special edition). This review takes only the audio part into consideration.

"The Truth Will Set You Free" is one of my three favourite TFK song so far. I have discovered this live version first and I have been in love with it since the very first time I have been listening to it. And since then, I have given it an impressive number of spins. When TFK meets Yes has always been a pleasure for my ears. Extremely beautiful vocal harmonies, superb guitar work rom Roine, complex rhythms and great drumming. Those are the ingredients for this true prog epic. I am not a devoted TFK maniac but when I like them, I really do so, no compromise really.

The next song has been split into two parts and the whole has been shortened by almost fifteen minutes. I must say that this treatment plus the fact that some boring passages seem to have been cut off the original and are replaced by interesting improv, I can only be pleased witht this rendition of "Garden Of Dreams". It still clocks at over forty-four minutes but it is far much better in this version than in its original form.

TFK goes on with "Humanizzimo". A song featured on Roine's solo album "The Flower Kings" released in 1994. It is a 100% Flower Kings song. Another epic (over twenty-three minutes in this format). It was also love at first sight. Almost the same atmosphere as for "Truth". Catchy melodies, nice keys and guitar. Sometimes spacey, sometimes improv (but not too much).

"Circus Brimstone" was featured on the album "Stardust We Are". It is the "shortest" piece of music you'll find on this album. Clocking at a mere eleven minutes ! The long intro seems pure improvisation and is definitely KC oriented. Almost the whole track will remain in these territories. Of course, besides Yes, the other major source of inspiration for TFK is KC, so it is only normal to have a song which fully reminds us this band. The last four minutes though are pure symphony mixed with a very powerful finale. A good track again.

"Silent Inferno" comes from the "Unfold The Future" sessions (this tour is supporting this album so no wonder here). It was one of the best song of the studio album and is more than welcome on this live work. A bit more extended here (about two additional minutes), this version is very pleasant. Another truely TFK song dominated by the Yes influence (which is how I prefer them by far). The guitar work is extremely well performed and this number is a highlight of this live set. Just behind "The Truth...".

The long "Stardust..." could not really convinced me while I was reviewing the studio album. I have the same feeling about this live version. A bit too long to be interesting during its whole lenght, this is still a pleasant composition.

TFK have made an excellent choice of tracks for this recording. This double album is an excellent alternative to their studio work which is often a bit too "short" (in quality, not in lenght of course). It is my favourite TFK live album so far. Four stars.

Report this review (#152861)
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Not bad......this being my first introduction to The Flower Kings. It is a strongly delivered live album ( CD version ), great cover and I was impressed also by the length of tracks especially as a live presentation.I do find they are highly gifted musicians especially Stolt, Gildenlow and Bodin, yet something inside me tells after repeated listens that their is an underlying hint of Yes and Genesis and even possibly Pink Floyd in parts. It is not necessarily a bad thing for bands to be heavily influenced by these great groups but in essence I do feel the musical composition therefore slips up as there is no doubt a '' Been there, worn the T- Shirt" type feel to the album.

It is very complex in parts which gives an even greater proggy feel to their music. Roine Stolts vocals are not totally strong but he does carry it off overall. ' Garden of Dreams part 1 ' for me is the high point on this album but ' part 2 'is also good as is the opener ' The Truth Will Set You Free'. I have not got the DVD version so I cannot speak for the visuals and other tracks. Again a good album but that is as far as it goes.

Report this review (#152886)
Posted Tuesday, November 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first time I heard The Flower Kings was when I brought the album Stardust We you can understand...son after that I brought all the albums and I followed them every since. I must say that I do not apreciate everything they make.....and all albums hasd some extremely good pieces and some lesser ones I think that in general I can say that I like their early years more than their recent years. Maybe because back than I was corresponding with Tomas over the E-mail quite frequent, and chatted with the band members on the phone or after a gig, for my radioprogram....had some interesting chat with Roine about the philosophical meanings behind his songs etc...really nice. I think Stardust is and always will be thier magnum opus, and the 2 albums before that one are close.

I think, although they are not Sweden's best) they make fantastic music. Really a crossover between Genesis, Yes, King Crimson and here and there some Pink Floyd.....having said must wonder what else can a Prog fan wish. We'll not much....and on this album they have collected some amazing pieces I must say. They did pretty much what I expect they will never do. And that is play a few of thier best epics in one concert (they must have thought, what Transatlantic can do or what Yes did during the Tales tour, we can do to).....and they do....The songs are all played with great bravoure....and incredibly skilled...The Flower Kings are known to play much lesser tight during concerts and improvise more. I must say that this is not hearable on this record and most songs are played quite close to the original, and only here and there have some extentional parts...I still remember a concert..I think in 1998 or something in Utrecht, where they opened with Retropolis...or that was what it eventually became...but I think the first 10 min it was hardly recognisable and the band was onlyu jamming and fooling it took them some time to get it going...but once it was going, it was going hard.....

This particular gig they only play epics and was recorded during the 'Unfold The Future tour', although it only contains 2 songs from that album...The record opens with 'The Truth Will Set You Free' a track that by now is a classic already...and by many regarded as one of their best...I think the version is quite faithfull to the original, so nothing wrong with that....really great song...

The second and third are Garden Of Dreams...that is played completely live...I dont really know why the live version is missing 15 min....since the studioversion is clocking almost one hour, so they must have left alot of stuff here and there....Perhaps they also began to realize the song was actually too long....And onl Flower Power...I think the best song by far is actually the opener from disc 2....but its a good thing they played a song that is so long, cos most artists don't dare to play something like that.

The first song of the second disc is in my opinion the absolute highlight of the concert....and that is a song from Roine's solo album The Flower King, Hummanizzimo......and what a version......I always thought that the studioversion is too flat...and should be much much more dynamical live and I was right. I still remember that I asked Tomas to play it in Utrecht in 1998, before the concert and he told me they would if...they were allowed to play the time..To bad they didn't......So I was happy that they eventually did play it on this tour....I think it is really the best song they ever did....and this version is even better.....

After that comes a song from Stardust....that is quite hazzy and a rather strange choice...but a very very great song...and such a great riff, once the song is going....This song is very simular with Silent Inferno...that is played right after that. But are played with great skill....

The last song is...Stardust We Are...and Im happy that for once they decide to play the entire song and not only part 3, as they always did in 1998 and a long time after that. The song is an absolte classic...and the version here is nothing but stellar....Better than the orginal, if you ask me....All in all a really great concert....more than 150 min. of pure pleasure...I only miss one thing....and that is The Flower King Itself... Alot of people are not really fund of it...but that would have made the set really complete....neither how, recomendable for sure.....

Report this review (#201783)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This live album features some of The Flower King's best material live. Although some of the band members where sick from or recovering from the flu during the recording, the playing and singing is excellent. However, it is not a full live performance as they recorded the album in several takes over an 8 hour course to an audience of 50 or so people. Therefore, it is not an album that captures a live show as the recording was a special occasion.

With that said, the album captures some amazing performances of their longer songs. The main highlight of the album is "Humanizzimo", from Roine Stolt's fantastic solo album "The Flower King". The live performance is not radically different to the studio version but it is better. Daniel Gildenlöw's vocals really bring an emotional conclusion to the song. "Garden of Dreams" is another highlight. It is only 44 minutes long, compared to the studio version which is 60 min. The live rendition cuts out a lot of the atmospheric pieces from the studio. I am not prepared to say which is better because both versions are very good.

Overall, a solid performance of some excellent songs that add a twist to the studio versions. Recommended for fans or beginners of The Flower Kings.

Report this review (#440531)
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
Jazz Rock/Fusion Team
5 stars The Flower Kings play some of their best epics that they had written up to this point (2003), and I must say, this record blew me away the first time I heard it, and still blows me away. I would argue that most of the material here is superior to their studio counterparts, as the energy level on some tracks is much higher, and there is a level of spontaneity, along with some jamming and improvisation. Not to mention the best TFK rhythm section of Jonas Reingold on bass and Zoltan Czorsz on drums playing the older material like Garden of Dreams, Humanizzimo, and Stardust We Are.

While it is necessary to hear the studio versions first so that you can tell what changes were made on these live versions (such as Garden of Dreams being edited down, but with added jams), if this is your first Flower Kings venture, you can't really go wrong. The band is known for the highest quality epics, some of their strongest material is held within these monster pieces of music. It's also nice to have Daniel Gildenlow as a member of the band here, as his voice adds nice color to the already colorful music. Having 3 lead vocalists in the band was a very great thing and it's unfortunate Daniel left.

Anyway, any TFK fan will look at this track list scream for joy. This should be an auto-buy for any TFK fan, or fans of symphonic prog of the highest order. The sound quality is perfect, and at times I feel like I'm listening to a studio album. Not every live album is worthy of 5 stars, most aren't; but this is an essential Flower Kings album, live or studio. You won't be disappointed.

Report this review (#779212)
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the best live albums that I know. The tracks selection es excellent, sound is awesome and the perfomance of every band member is fresh and with great lucidity, clarity. No need to detail every track; but I want emphasise the brightness of The truth will set you free, great song in which the group get an unbeatable atmosphere through the 31 minutes of duration. Another highlight for me is Humanizzimo, amazing representation of this beauty song, magnificent. The rest is interpreted on the same high level, in addition to great composition of the songs, my expectations are fullfilment. Get this album if you enjoy good music.
Report this review (#927273)
Posted Saturday, March 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars You ask me if this music is quality or quantity; I say both! The Flower Kings often plays long songs and here on this live record they play some of their best lengthy ones. I don't think this is a record for anyone and you won't appreciate it anytime, and especielly not the whole at one occation. But this live record is certainly worth its listening time and it's they best way I have ever experienced The Flower Kings!

This is a live recording from Uppsala Stadsteater in february 2003, now ten years ago. Uppsala is the band's home town and the fourth most populated in my Sverige(Sweden). Even if they don't sing in Swedish I am proud my people also has come up with good prog rock, don't just the English and the Italian guys. The cover shows a locust playing drums and that is nice because I think the drummers Zoltan Czörsz and Hasse Bruniusson do a fantastic job to get this working. The other musicians are also Tomas Bodin(keys), Hans Fröberg(guitars, vocals), Daniel Gildenlöw(guitars, vocals, keys, percussion), Jonas Reingold(bass) and Roine Stolt(guitars and vocals).

I understand if you don't have time to listen to everything. But if you hear anything I think you want to hear the rest. "The Truth Will set you free" is a fascinating start. It's unbelievable long, but interesting and very pleasant all the time. My ears like what they hear. So also in the last song "Stardust we are" which is poetic and mild but also intriguing and experimenting. I had problems with this band when I hadn't heard so much, but they can really play. "Humanizzimo" is lovely with strong melodies and "Circus Brimstone" is more experimental and almost instrumental. "Silent Inferno" is a quite ordinary epic and "Garden of Dreams 1+2" are so long and so well spendid time. The majority of these tracks are worth five stars.

It's rather difficult to describe these long songs that include so much. I can you share my feeling of excitement with this music. The well perfomed tracks touched me. The Flower Kings has no original singer which creates wonder and their instruments are ordinary. But with their resources, the manage to do something very special and I am sure this record is worth all stars. Five, in other words!

Report this review (#1092282)
Posted Thursday, December 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars This is a CD rendition of their excellent first DVD, Meet The Flower Kings, released in 2003. I was always impressed by the images of the band playing their epics, some of them exceeding the 30 minute, and still they played with such ease and confidence you think they are actually mimicking to a CD. Not the case, of course, but very impressive. The DVD was always on my top ten videos of all time in my collection.

The CD on the other side, impressed me less,of course. It does have its merits and although Garden Of Dreams has some fourteen minutes less than the original studio version (and it still leaves 46 minutes of music!) , this live rendition of the suite is actually slightly stronger and better than the one we have on Flower Power. I never really liked the chaotic and - at least most of it - pointless avant guard noodling of Circus Brimstone. Like the video, I wish they had included a couple of "shorter" songs instead or chose another epic in its place. They had plenty of them! I loved their version of Humanizzimo: this track actually came from Roine Stolt solo album The Flower King (which, for several people - me included - is really TFK´s first CD).

I must say I enjoy this CD because for a live recording, they had the good idea of playing some of their strongest (and longest) compositions in full (The Truth Will Set You Free and Stardust We Are) and I doubt if they ever will do that in future concerts. And it´s a great pleasure to listen to those long epics all played together in the same album (save for Circus Brimstone, but nothing is perfect). The flower Kings is definitely the most important symphonic prog band to appear since the 70´s heyday. I love you, guys!

Report this review (#1480552)
Posted Friday, October 30, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #15

Now what do we have here? Oh yes, a double live in the old style!

But this is just the outer physical form, don't be deluded, because when you get in you'll find yourself taken on a wondrous musical journey that will leave you a different person thereafter. That happened to me, anyway, and this was when my profound admiration for this band did begin.

Global Appraisal

Throughout more than 2 and a half hours the FK perform 6 epic tracks, taken from 3 past studio albums and even one from Roine solo album of 1994, and recorded here sequentially on a single date. These long songs, by their own merit already magnificent and grandiose, acquire in this sequential listening an extra dimension that I can only classify as majestic: supreme rulers of the domains.

The richness and diversity of the compositions and arrangements is simply astonishing and were captured here like glued together by the strong collective personality of a band caught on a precise moment in time and space.

This resulting feeling of unity and continuity happens to create the illusion that you are listening to a single gigantic theme of two and a half hours - simply overwhelming, I tell you.


The band, but this everybody already knows and is not a matter of opinion it's an established fact, this particular band is for a great deal responsible of bringing the Symphonic Prog of old to the 21st cent.

This fellow Reingold is a pleasure to listen to; I tend to value very highly the role of bassists in any band, like to say they glue together the otherwise disparate parts. No doubt that's what happens here, a center piece of the whole sound, neatly very "classical" and refined, a true class act.

Roine Stolt - here, in Transatlantic, wherever - exceptional guitar playing and composing (all tracks on this one, 2 with Bodin)

Report this review (#1492499)
Posted Wednesday, November 25, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars I honestly can't say much that already hasn't been said here. The number of five-star reviews and generally glowing outlook that many seem to have toward this album is, in my mind, totally justified. Simply put, this is an absolutely fantastic document.

I own basically everything this band has ever released. To me, they epitomize the best of symphonic prog - melodic complexity, a slightly jazzy bent at times, a sense of adventure - and, to top it all off, a mostly positive outlook as well (though that has waned on more recent releases). At the same time, while I love much of their music, things can occasionally become a bit too self-indulgent - an overlong solo, a bit too much cleverness. Such is the nature of trying to produce music like this, and given how prolific Roine Stolt and company have been over time, it's easy to forgive the occasional misfire when there are far more moments of brilliance and true musical sophistication.

Any issues one might have had on the studio releases, however, are all completely discarded here. If I were to pick one album to initiate someone to TFK with, this would be it. It has the epics (including a nicely pared-down "Garden of Dreams" - I don't miss what they didn't include, anyway), and they're delivered tastefully, precisely, and beautifully, with a ton of feeling behind them too. I particularly love "Humanizzimo", especially the part where Ulf Wallander's soprano sax would've been (love his work, don't get me wrong) - the eerie keyboards and fantastic bass/drum work send chills down my spine every time. I will say that the rhythm section of Jonas Reingold and Zoltan Csörsz are outstanding throughout these performances - wonderful underpinnings to the adventuresome melody players. (I find myself wishing Csörsz would've hung around longer. All their drummers have been top-notch, but I really like his work and feel a loss that he apparently didn't care for the arrangements for some reason. I also wish Wallander and Hasse Bruniusson were around for their more recent releases, but that's another story.) Everyone is really in top form, both technically and expressively. It's pure joy listening to this, even at its great length. The material and the execution are the epitome of what symphonic progressive rock is at its best.

So, if you're reading this, please get yourself a copy of this CD. You will not be disappointed. Five stars.

Report this review (#1537631)
Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2016 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I will always connect THE FLOWER KINGS with SPOCK'S BEARD because when I discovered this style of music in the early 00's it was those two bands that kept popping up. The former reminds me more of YES while the latter more like the more melancholic GENESIS. I prefer the BEARD like I prefer GENESIS but that early period of THE FLOWER KINGS resonates with me from 1994 and Roine Stolt's "The Flower King" to "Back In The World Of Adventures" to "Stardust We Are" to "Flower Power" and "Unfold The Future". Those five I've kept around and this double live album is a nice edition to those considering it was recorded in February of 2003 in Upsalla Sweden. And it's all epics! Man is there anyone as prolific as Stolt when it comes to song writing? This is the classic lineup as well with Stolt, Gildenlow, Froberg, Bodin, Reingold, Csorsz and Bruniusson.

Of course both discs are packed with over 75 minutes each, no surprise there but only seven songs. Some monsters like the two part "Garden Of Dreams" from "Flower Power" at a combined 44 1/2 minutes. Or the 26 1/2 minute closer on disc two "Stardust We Are" from the same album plus we get "Circus Brimstone" from that album also on disc two and that's my favourite of all the tunes here. Love the lyrics on "Humanizzime" from "The Flower King" also on disc two with the only track left from that disc being "Silent Inferno" from "Unfold The Future" which also is where the opener from disc one comes from in "The Truth Will Set You Free". A lot of music here but again I've come to expect this with THE FLOWER KINGS and if your like me and prefer their early stuff then check out this recording which also comes in a DVD which I don't have.

Report this review (#2584552)
Posted Sunday, August 8, 2021 | Review Permalink

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