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Moon Safari - Live In Mexico CD (album) cover


Moon Safari

Symphonic Prog

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5 stars This, the band's second live album, sees Mikael Israelsson deputising on drums for Tobias Lundgren as they play the Baja Prog Festival.

Like their previous live album, "The Gettysburg Address", the songs are performed in a way that is faithful but not reverential to the original recordings. Whilst the former album showcased the band's live strengths in an admirable way, this new recording shows that they have matured and developed as live performers, as a result of their enhanced gigging experience. This is particularly reflected in the boldness of the arrangements, with the band not afraid to go for a subtle sound in places where others would push the power button.

There are many highlights but especial mention must be given to "cross the rubicon", which is beautifully performed, showing that "powerful" does not have to mean "loud". This song is one of many that demonstrates that the unrivalled vocal prowess of the band is a live, and not just a studio experience.

If you're new to the band, this is not a bad place to start, although it is very difficult to represent the breadth of the band's output even on a double cd.

For UK based proggers, I would recommend catching MS joint headlining with Lazuli at the end of November.

Report this review (#1301813)
Posted Saturday, November 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars With Moon Safari having consolidated their shift of sound from the 1970's Symphonic influenced Prog of their beginnings to the more modern style of Lover's End and Himlabacken, this their 2nd live album concentrates completely in this last period's music, not featuring any songs from their 2 first albums. Nothing wrong with it, while some people may find their latest releases a bit too 'poppy', there is a lot of quality and good taste in their recent music, perhaps hidden in the sweet and accessible melodies and arrangements, which need some uninhibited listens to reveal their beauty, and in any case the song selection here focusses on the most Proggy side of it.

The album was recorded during their performance at the Baja Prog Festival and drummer Tobias Lundgren who was at the time expecting a child with his wife was replaced by Mikael Israelsson who does a very good job. The band sounds better live than what I have heard in previous performances, the accumulated experience is showing up, and they seem to be a bit more daring in their playing and singing arrangements. We get 2 songs which were already present in their previous live 'The Gettysburg Address', 'A Kid Called Panic' and 'Heartland' from Lover's End, but for the rest all are songs which had not been released live yet.

The album starts with 'Too Young To Say Goodbye', one of the highlights from Himlabacken, followed by the great 'Heartland', played a bit slower than in the 'Gettysburg' gig. 'Barfly' and 'Mega Moon' from Himlabacken follow, showing the more modern approach with strong Innuendo-era Queen influences. Yes, more 'poppy' but great songs anyway and 'Mega Moon' at nearly 9 minutes can hardly be called a pop song, and the many vocal layers are nicely performed live.

'A Kid Called Panic' was also already included in 'Gettysburg' but it's such a nice song that I don't mind having it again. Then comes one of my favourite songs of Lover's End, 'Crossed The Rubicon', 11 minutes of bliss where they show once more that their multi-vocal talents are not just a thing of the studio. So glad that they have released this great song in a live album.

The closing epic this time is 'Lover's End Part III: Skelleftea Serenade', it's also very nice that they included this wonderful 25 minute piece in the setlist. A proof that Moon Safari are still to be considered as a true Prog band, despite those who may be despising them for becoming too accessible, sweet or cheesy. No Sirs, Moon Safari are a true Prog Rock band, they just do it their own way in the 2010's and that's a good thing. Their music is best enjoyed in studio recordings, but it's nice to hear that they call pull it our nicely in live performances too.

Report this review (#1380791)
Posted Tuesday, March 10, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Their better live album.

With better sound quality, more consistent songs, and a more precise performance, this is actually the better Moon Safari live album to listen to all the way through. I am not sure if they recorded additional vocals in the studio, or modified the live vocals in some way, but they are perfectly in tune, cleanly recorded, and lush on this album, whereas on "Gettysburg Address" they are rougher around the edges. The band seems better practiced too. But most importantly, all the songs on this album are listenable. While there are no tracks here quite as musical as the two best on 'Gettysburg' ("Moonwalk" and "Other Half of the Sky"), thankfully on this one they left out (most of) the cheese and this album better showcases Moon Safari's song-writing skills. On this album the weakest tracks are actually the two that also appear on the 'Gettysburg Address' live album: "A Kid Called Panic" and "Heartland". Although it seems these are two of the band's own favourites, they are the ones here with more hints of cheese and in fact they are musically shown the door by the rest of the material. "Too Young to Say Goodbye", the opening track, is very well done, with some very nice harmony vocals that thankfully just avoids the cheese, even if it is very light. Moon Safari's vocals at times remind one of the Beach Boys, and their lyrics are often about relationships too, which presents an interesting contrast with the complex, extended and sometimes darker musical tonalities. "Barfly" is an example of this, with tri-tone progressions with dark overtones contrasting with the lighter sing-along lyrics. "Mega Moon" has some great harmony vocals, those tendency to veer into cheese territory is saved by the quality of the harmonies and the underlying musicality. The second disc is even better, albeit shorter. "Crossed the Rubicon" competes for the best track on this album with the long epic that closes it "Lover's End". Both are very musical, with great extended sections. Leaving out 'Kid Called Panic' and 'Heartland' still leaves an album of almost 70 minutes of decent music. The only annoying thing is the banter that the band provides between tracks - I guess they can't help but be a bit cheesy there (same goes for the banter on 'Gettysburg Address'). But on the whole, this is the higher-quality live release. I give this 7.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is just enough to garner 4 PA stars.

Report this review (#1824406)
Posted Saturday, November 18, 2017 | Review Permalink

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