Why this amazing live album, by the almighty Giant has yet to be reviewed on this site, is a complete mystery to me. This has quickly become one of my favorite live albums ever. Words fail to describe how amazing I find it. But I'll do my best.
The members of GG were amazing musicians. With an uncanny ability, to merge so many different styles of music (medieval, folk, blues, jazz, classical, rock, etc.) along with, virtuosic and intricate playing, as well as unique and lovely vocalisation, and they do it all in songs rarely surpassing 6 or 7 minutes of length (sometimes shorter). And sometimes, the live translations of these songs are even superior to the studio results.
Every track on this CD is nothing short of a wild adventure of sensory and sonic pleasure. It's so hard to pick highlights. But the Freehand title track is one that definitely stands out. The studio version of this piece suffers from less then stellar production. Here, you get to hear this amazing song in it’s glory, with an amazing guitar solo to boot. Gary Green never ceases to amaze me with his playing. For all the dissonant and abstract qualities of Gentle Giant, he never strayed for from the basic blues roots, and it all makes for an exciting contrast.
Another highlight worthy of mention is the Octopus medley. This track is particularly stunning. But I have one gripe, namely during the “Advent of Panurge”, where the guitar solo from the studio version, is replaced on here by a recorder solo. This makes me sit up and think WTF?, every time. I know the band was trying to be unique and different, but not having the guitar during that section really takes away from the intensity of the piece. But that is really the only flaw in an otherwise perfect album.
“The Runaway/Experience” is performed exceedingly well, not that much different then the studio versions of these songs, but since the studio versions were really good, I can't complain. And you haven't heard “So Sincere” until you've heard it here in all it's 10 minutes of glory. They really stretch this one out into a lengthy jam that never ceases to amaze me.
The band also graces us here with an amusing rendition of “Sweet Georgia Brown”, allegedly during an equipment breakdown.
To end this amazing live album is the medley of “Peel the Paint/I lost my head”. PTP is simply stunning on here. It's only the second half, but it's performed with so much fervor and energy. To bad it's missing the guitar solo from the studio version, but it doesn't really hurt the song. It then segues into “I Lost My Head”, which is also one of my favorite GG tunes.
There are many more enjoyable moments from this album. But I think this will suffice for now. Needless to say, if you do not own this album in your possession you can never consider yourself a complete GG fan, or a complete prog fan, for that matter. It's just that good.