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Airbag The Greatest Show On Earth album cover
3.91 | 440 ratings | 15 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Surveillance (Part 1) (2:23)
2. Redemption (7:02)
3. Silence Grows (5:54)
4. Call Me Back (11:15)
5. The Greatest Show on Earth (7:02)
6. Surveillance (Part 2-3) (16:45)

Total Time 50:21

Line-up / Musicians

- Asle Tostrup / vocals, keyboards, programming
- Bjørn Riis / guitars, keyboards, backing vocals, bass
- Jørgen Grüner-Hagen / programming, keyboards
- Anders Hovdan / bass
- Henrik Fossum / drums

Releases information

Release date: October 25, 2013

CD Karisma Records KAR076CDD (2013, Norway)
2LP Karisma Records KAR076LP, KAR076LPW (2013, Europe)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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AIRBAG The Greatest Show On Earth ratings distribution

(440 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

AIRBAG The Greatest Show On Earth reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars O, frabjous day! Calloo, callay! They've finally done it, folks! The heirs-apparent to PINK FLOYD have finally fulfilled the enormous promise of their 2009 debut album, Identity; they have pushed past the imitative phase of their 2011 PF-clone/imitation album, All Rights Removed. Now that they have mastered the sounds and stylings of their ancestors, they have moved into new territory, creating fresh, new music. Yes, this is still close to the songs familiar to us all from the original Floyd, but AIRBAG have gotten their courage and confidence built up enough to, in effect, create new Pink Floyd music. that is, if the individuals and collective members of Pink Floyd had been able to retain the creative and explorative fires of their prime years (68-80), this is the five star music they would have been producing.

Again, take the beautiful melodies and masterful instrumental weaves of Identity and the Pink Floyd sounds and forms of All Rights Removed and you get this 2013 release, The Greatest Show on Earth.

Mega kudos, Asle, Bjørn, Henrik, Jørgen, and Anders: You have achieved what I thought possible for you: A masterpiece of progressive rock music! This one is for the ages, boys!

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Everyone has been debating the true definition of 'progressive rock' since its inception back in the late 60s and regardless of the multiplicity of opinions, truth is generally found in the word itself. Airbag is now up to their third album and it has been a clear evolution ever since their debut Identity back in 2009, polishing, refining, defining and focusing their heavy Pink Floyd vibe into something wholly theirs. This album has lots of gleaming atmosphere, a deliberate mood creating sequence has been structured to provide more than just a collection of songs, best proven by the opening moody intro. And a true intro it is, as it will be expanded into a full blown finale extravaganza.

Guitarist Bjorn Riis is a tremendously gifted player, as well as composing energetic space prog arrangements that have a modern sheen on a trusted and proven formula, there is also a lot of attention to detail which perhaps was a previous omission, the sophomore All Rights Removed being just a few inches away from perfection. Here little things abound such as some Roxy Music-like tightness on 'Redemption', a phenomenal track that also features a swirling guitar solo amid tempestuous walls of resonating riffs, frantic drumming and heartfelt vocals. 'Silence Grows' is sleek and more obviously from the Darker Side (sic), organ trembling nicely with wistful vocals and slashing Gilmourian guitar crescendos, the beat binary and solid. It's a shorter ballad that has a familiar sound and yet still displays interesting aspects, with lots of bombast and grandiose wallop.

The 11 minute +'Call Me Back' is a clear sign that the experimental phase has settled in nicely with the otherwise brilliant chops, a divine substance has been blended into the compositions with deft detail, overt passion, disciplined direction and profound sensibilities. The deliberate axe solo is layered atop some cannonading beats and flapping synths, severe contrasts in power and substance, very cool, indeed, like an edgy form of laid-back! Oohing backing vocals add sensational cinematographics to the breathlessly unconventional melody. Yes, candlelight vigil music at its finest, lights out!

The title track, a 7 minute classic prog song, is as close to ear-friendly you can hope for, overpowering gusts of shimmering sonic genius, rhythm guitar blasts that slashes with utter confidence, brooding synthesized veils and depth-charge bass and drums. The lead guitar shies away from being a technical monster, tight notes going up and down the neck, just like blues guitar should be = emotional, graphic and raw.

As with any palatial structure, the domed roof is what gives this prog cathedral its imposing feel, a closing epic that spans nearly 17 minutes, drenched in earnest emotion as singer Asle Tostrup shows off a scintillating voice, neither Gilmour nor Waters but truly his own. I once believed that he had a slight Robert Smith of the Cure tinge, but that has somewhat dissipated here. Airbag has concocted a true epic jewel, a defining moment in their impressive career. The power is intense, unrelenting, almost on the verge of hard (check out the 9 minute mark section!), careening into sonic delirium. A mid-section washes onto a splendiferous beach of echoing sounds, pools of aquatic synth vie with bending guitar palm trees. A clanging guitar appears on the horizon (yeah, very Pink!), a binary beat mason churns slowly towards the warm synthesized winds and then, finally Riis lets loose a tremendous axe salvo.

Atmospheric, dense, exciting, powerful and intoxicating, Airbag has arrived with a furious riposte, adding their grain of salt to the 2013 treasure trove, a deluge of stupendous releases. The artwork is spellbinding, very Storm Thorgerson/Hipgnosis and is a pure delight that complements the music inside. This band deserves to be considered up there with all the recent leading contenders (Haken, Deeexpus, Nine Stones Close, Galahad, Big Big Train etc'.) as a purveyor of quality progressive music.

5 extravaganzas

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
3 stars 'The Greatest Show On Earth' is a nice psychedelic drenched new album from this Norwegian band AIRBAG. Six atmospheric songs are given, where the title track is divided in two partitions though. Heavy outbursts are rare, the production mirrors a relaxed flow overall. While the musicianship is flawless and Asle Tostrup provides a rather perfect singing voice, they are using a proven formula - consisting of dominant Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree ingredients, plus a proper pinch of melancholy. Hence they can't make it wrong, not really.

Although there are a lot of keyboard skills around when exploring the line-up, Bjørn Riis' guitar plays a very important role, often presented in a multi-tracked mode - he's partially sending greetings to Mr. Gilmour in any case. The (nearly) instrumental Call Me Back comes as the highlight here, Part 2 and 3 from the title track leave room for some jamming. Fans of RPWL and fellow countrymen Gazpacho might also like this album. There's some variety and uniqueness missing to make it big really - an enjoyable production this is nevertheless.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Airbag started life as a Pink Floyd tribute band, and they've always worn that influence on their sleeve, but after the very strong All Rights Removed they seem to be making a bid for widespread success with The Greatest Show On Earth. On paper, it's a good mixture - topical subject matter (namely, the issue of surveillance within society), along with incoming influences from Porcupine Tree's indie rock-influenced period (Stupid Dream/Lightbulb Sun) - should in principle be enough to push the album over the bar.

As it is, though, it feels a bit too cold and calculated, with the charm and variety of All Rights Removed absent. (In particular, the reduction of neo-prog influences from the likes of Marillion makes the sound of the album feel a bit less rich than its predecessor). It's competent enough stuff, but it feels a little bland to me.

Review by Second Life Syndrome
4 stars One of the most recommended albums from 2013, Airbag's "The Greatest Show on Earth" alluded me for most of the year. I finally got the chance to hear it, and I have to admit it isn't quite what I expected. Airbag is hugely influenced by Pink Floyd, and I hear Porcupine Tree in there, too. However, they don't really sound like either of those bands. They definitely have their own identity.

That identity is one of atmosphere, strong guitar work, and detailed keys. The album itself is thick with ambiance from beginning to end. This is due in part to the keyboard work offered by multiple members. They range from spacey to piano to soaring, but they are almost always there, haunting and speaking softly. On top of this foundation, the guitar lets its voice be heard. Bjorn Riis is extremely talented with the guitar, and his steeled tone gives us awesome licks and hardened solos that pierce the music to its core.

The entire band is extremely unified, that's for certain. They unite with almost post-rock dexterity, creating beautiful texture and interesting melodies. The vocalist, Asle Tostrup, has a very mellow, almost weak, tone to his delivery. He has a good voice, though I feel a truly spectacular singer could carry this band to new heights.

The album is about society and surveillance. I think it's about more than that, though. Feelings of desperation and misery are definitely felt throughout this album, as a call for privacy and grace is first and foremost. However, I will say that the scope of this surveillance is probably global. I ultimately think Airbag is making a religious statement here, but I won't get into that now.

Creeping, dark, and foggy; "The Greatest Show on Earth" feels laid bare and exposed. These feelings are expressed so very well here. In the thick atmosphere of keys and piercing guitar, one can feel the desperate attempts at reclaiming life. "Call Me Back" (my favorite), for instance, features amazing lyrics and melodies, but I do feel that the rest of the album feels a bit samey. It's one long melancholy trip, but it does hold interest.

While I like the two part "Surveillance" track, I would definitely say that the strongest tracks are the ones in the middle, especially "Call Me Back", "Silence Grows", and title track. Though the music is a bit one note at times, it does end up featuring personality and somber mood. That idea is pretty representative of the whole album, then, as the album is clearly meant to be atmospheric and very personal. I believe it succeeds in most of what it aims to do, as it delivers a mood and a foundation for guitar theatrics. To call it a masterpiece would be an overreach, but I will say that this fantastic album is outstanding in many ways and needs to be heard by any prog fan.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Norwegian band AIRBAG started out sometime back in the 1990's, and while they released some material in earlier days, they didn't officially release a debut album proper until 2009. Since then two more full length productions have followed. "The Greatest Show on Earth" is the most recent of their albums, and was issued through the Norwegian label Karisma Records in the fall of 2013.

When dealing with a band with a past history as The Pink Floyd Experience, it won't come as much of a shock to see them recommended to fans of that band either, I hope. This is very much the case for Airbag and "The Greatest Show on Earth", where fans of late 70's Pink Floyd in particular should take notice of this album, especially those amongst them who also tend to enjoy bands such as Porcupine Tree.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Back in 2010 I reviewed my first AIRBAG album, their debut from 2009 called "Identity". I still remember spending way too much time trying to decide between 3 stars or 4 stars as for me it's a 3.5 star debut. Really impressed with it but a couple of so-so songs in there too. Here I am back over a decade later to review their third studio album "The Greatest Show On Earth". Man they have improved as far as my musical tastes are concerned. Still very FLOYD-like and ANATHEMA came to mind at times, their "Judgement" era. So much spacey atmosphere and three of the five musicians play keyboards.

This is simply a very consistent record with all six tracks bringing lots to the table that I like. Emotional vocals, emotional soaring guitar leads, interesting lyrics are all part of this album. This is around the time that Norway was just starting to leave a mark in the Prog community, a mark that has continued to grow in 2023 to the point that Norway is at the very forefront of progressive music, leading the way. Like PINK FLOYD this band are masters at contrasting the mellow and powerful sections to great affect. PINK FLOYD is the first band that I noticed used to this style back on "Dark Side Of The Moon" even though it wasn't new or anything at that point.

I really like how uniform the sound is here and can't get enough of that spacey atmosphere and those soaring guitars. A 4 star album without question.

Latest members reviews

3 stars I was suspicious when I saw not just one, but three guys credited with keyboards and programming here. What did they program, a Richard Wright clone? If I were asked to list their number one influence, I would say - Pink Floyd. If asked for influence number two, the answer would be - Pink Floyd. A ... (read more)

Report this review (#1116643) | Posted by Progrussia | Sunday, January 19, 2014 | Review Permanlink

1 stars What happened to progrock these days. As I listen to the latest effort of Airbag from Norway, I feel rather disappointed. I bought the album because of the raving reviews I read all over the www. But what did I buy? As I listen to the music that's offered on the album, a Porcupine Tree single co ... (read more)

Report this review (#1076910) | Posted by yarno | Friday, November 15, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A lot of great music has flown out over us this year, and even if it's not near the magic of the seventies it's still enjoyable. Airbag's record is one of them which has got much appreciation, that is not unusual when a record is new. I can hear what is attractive on this record even if I'm no ... (read more)

Report this review (#1073033) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Wednesday, November 6, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Having spent a fantastic night attending Airbag's release concert in Oslo, I decide now it's the time to publish my very first review here on Progarchives. "The Greatest How on Earth" is indeed a most ambitious title, and I dare say Airbag lives up their ambition with this, their third full-length ... (read more)

Report this review (#1071967) | Posted by HAL | Monday, November 4, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A beautiful album: Yes. One of the best psychedelic space prog rock of the last times:Yes. Excellent sound mastering: Yes Excellent performance by musicians :Yes Great compositions, great songs..... But.... ¿is this work very original? It is only a remembering exercise to find: ....Porcu ... (read more)

Report this review (#1071912) | Posted by robbob | Monday, November 4, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I enjoyed Airbag's last album, All Rights Removed, but there was something about it that didn't quite gel together enough for me to consider it to be really excellent. I think what it was lacking, something that their new release has in spades, is atmosphere. It might just be me, but this album has ... (read more)

Report this review (#1070899) | Posted by Revelation_Space | Saturday, November 2, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have been awaiting the release of this album The Greatest Show on Earth for what seems like forever, or at least since they announced a new album would be released earlier this year. It's inevitable that most people will compare Airbag to Pink Floyd. Their style and composition are so similar ... (read more)

Report this review (#1068752) | Posted by Bottlehop | Tuesday, October 29, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Airbag are finally back, following on from their highly acclaimed albums Identity (2009) and All Rights Removed (2011). The Greatest Show on Earth is a beautiful atmospheric album while "the lyrics deal with the individual and its growing feeling of alienation and distrust in society and the establi ... (read more)

Report this review (#1065388) | Posted by maialaia | Thursday, October 24, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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