So, I get these really cool emails from Greg Walker at Synphonic Music letting me know what new stuff he’s just gotten in stock. My eyes instantly got wide when I saw that the legendary Swedish proggers the Flower Kings had just released a new live DVD, known as “Tour Kaputt.” I was absolutely thrilled. Not only are The Flower Kings an amazing band, but the quality of their live performances, in my opinion, is hard to beat by any band. There’s something really magical about the sound they get on stage; they’re just one of those bands that, while sounding great on their albums, somehow manages to achieve an even fuller and richer sound while performing live.
Let me re-emphasize that a new DVD release from Stolt and company is never an event to pass up. Honestly though, with the excessively high standard that they set performing the epics in their DVD Meet the Flower Kings and the extremely enjoyable offer that was Instant Delivery, I was wondering how their new DVD would hold up. Not that I was worried at all about the performance; there was just one little thing about Tour Kaputt that had me nervous: it’s an official bootleg. With these types of releases you never know quite what you’re getting into. But, being the faithful Flower Kings fan that I am, I decided to go ahead and purchase without further hesitation or debate.
Bottom line is, I was not disappointed in the least bit. For not being a professionally produced recording, the sound quality and the visuals are actually really good and definitely do justice to the nuances of the Flower Kings’ dynamic and performance. While the film quality isn’t quite as crisp as the other releases, the angles and shots are excellent and everything comes in clear in the audio mix. If I have one complaint, it is that there are a few moments where they use filters or visual effects, which don’t enhance the experience. However, these are so few and far between that it’s not something that would dissuade any fans from watching this release time and time again.
Joining Stolt, Bodin, Reingold, and Froberg on this tour is King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto, who does a fine job at fitting in with the band and having to cover what is usually the percussion job of two. Since this tour was in support of their record Sum of No Evil, that album is emphasized in this show; the band plays 5 of the 6 album tracks and pounds out some stunning moments, like the newly arranged ending chorus of “Love is the Only Answer.” Of course, The Flower Kings always play ultra-long on their live releases (I guess they do on their studio releases as well), so it’s only natural that they included a whole bunch of other tracks which span their career. Furthermore, not being a band that simply plays the same “favorites” at every show, the majority of the songs on this release can’t be found on any of their other DVDs, which is reason enough to buy this.
While the first half of the DVD was incredible, I have a soft spot for the second half. There’s a string of songs that they couldn’t have chosen any better to create a massively moving and heartfelt show: “Babylon,” “Stardust” (excerpts), “What if God is Alone,” and “Blade of Cain.” Babylon features some of the best musical building I’ve witnessed in any song. It’s amazing what they are able to do with a repetitive bassline and melody over the course of a couple of minutes. Truly stunning and immensely uplifting, “Babylon” was such a nice feel-good piece that I was wondering if it was going to get much better. Well, they managed to construct the perfect set up for what would follow; a really cool ambient intro to all of our favorite song: “Stardust We Are.” Stolt controls the reverby leads while Reingold contributes some spacey synth patches, leading Mr. Froberg into a sublime vocal melody that kicks off (or should I say, continues) some of the most beautiful moments of the show. The combination of Stardust’s lyrics with the cosmic atmosphere that the band produces is a real treat. On every one of their releases they do a totally different rendition of this piece, and I must say that this one blew me away, just like the others. Some definite shiver moments abounded.
At this point, I hadn’t yet realized that “Stardust” and “Babylon” had done some major tenderizing on my emotions, and by the time they roll out with “What If God Is Alone,” I was totally sucked in. Once again, the band knows how to beautifully build a mood and deliver the goods. By the end of this piece, with images of the cosmos and Buddha flying around stage as Hasse sings “I am one with the earth, I am one with the sky,” it was hard not to get a bit emotional. And, of course, they just had to follow up with another gorgeous piece: “Blade of Cain. This one’s been one of my favorites for a long time, and the band doesn’t fail to impress, kicking it off with an extra little symphonic opening before the slowly marching keyboard melody and bass solo begin to creep out. Jonas Reingold’s weeping bass solo on the fretless never felt more fitting than on than on this particular performance, absolutely capturing the mood and essence of the song.
While not topping Meet the Flower Kings, Tour Kaputt ended up being an official bootleg that definitely soars far above mediocrity. In fact, I would go as far as saying that this is a FANTASTIC release all around and will not disappoint (that is, unless you hate The Flower Kings anyways. And if you do, shame on you). Kudos to these guys for managing to put out another great release. Can’t wait for the next studio offering and another awesome DVD to accompany it. Until then, I definitely won’t get sick of watching this one.