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For my first review of a live album, I chose this one, as it's the only one I own that hasn't been reviewed already.
This album, simply entitled live, was recorded during the A Night At The Opera tour. And it most certainly meets my anticipations.
Soundwise, this is incredible. Nothing overshadows anything else; the guitars, vocals and drums are put to main focus, but the crowd presence is always very strong, and the bass is for the most part very evident without at all being too loud. And the band puts up some excellent performances. All the members are in top shape, and each song reeks with energy.
The tracklisting focuses on the newer stuff, featuring mainly songs from Imaginations From The Other Side, Nightfall In Middle-Earth and A Night At The Opera. And while the latest is by far the weakest offering as of yet by Blind Guardian, even the ANATO songs come off pretty damn well. They tend to have a better sense of focus, less silly effects and just sound better in live environment. Out of all Opera songs, the one that's been improved the most is probably Punishment Divine, which is made a 1000 times heavier. Check out that part at 0:40- Holy fucking crap, those guitars are heavy. You didn't get to hear that stuff in the studio versions, with all the silly effects covering over the guitars.
The song selection in general is excellent, featuring most of their classics, including such excellent tracks as the immortal opener War of Wrath/Into the Storm, crowd favourites like Nightfall and The Bard's Song (Hearing the crowd sing along to that song is just a fucking huge feeling), epic masterpieces such as Imaginations from the Other Side and Lost in the Twilight Hall, and intense speed metal monsters like Valhalla, Majesty and The Script for My Requiem.
And as mentioned, out of 22 tracks (well, 21 if you don't count War of Wrath. And you don't), only 4 are from A Night At The Opera, and even they come off quite well. So, the tracklisting is pretty much perfect, even though some more unexpected tracks like I'm Alive or When Sorrow Sang would make for a nice surprise. But hell, you can't have it all.
Yet, there is one major flaw. The album suffers from incoherence. Hansi talks some in-between the songs, which is something I enjoy on a live album. But he keeps mentioning the places they're playing at the time. "Hello Madrid", for example. And when he suddenly says something in German to the audience in Stuttgart, it feels incoherent and also pretty dumb. This sometimes tends to ruin the flow of the album, even though the songs from various venues are blended together very smoothly.
Still, this one flaw does annoy me, and tends to mess things up sometimes. But when the boys start playing, I guess you can forgive them for this. Cause all in all, this is one heck of a live album, and definitely comparable to Tokyo Tales.