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After all the drama surrounding Yngwie's life at this point, his mother's death, his recovery from arm damage in a serious car accident, and alot of tumult in his personal life and some shifting of the guard within the line-up of his band. Eager to get back in the saddle, the maestro of shred bounced back with an amazing album and then this priceless gem of a live album.
One thing has been certain from the very beginning, Yngwie is a player whom thrives on stage, to the point where it's hard to tell when your listening to a studio job or a live show (save perhaps the cheers of the audience). Although his showmanship can not be viewed visually on this recording, there are plenty of indicators through the way the leads are played and the reactions of the crowd to suggest that Yngwie is flying on air.
The first thing that one must consider when dealing with a live album is what is different from what is observed in the studio releases. In this case, the instrumental works are the primary contrast. The substitution of the top guitar harmony part in "Black Star" with a lead synth ambience is a nice touch, as are the various structural changes that shortened the duration of this composition. "Far Beyond the Sun" displays Yngwie's amazing ability to re-work his own melodies through on the spot improvisation over common practice harmonic progressions. When he says he trained himself by improvising over Paganini's 24 Caprices, this performance makes me a believer. "The Trilogy Suite" has been combined with another of his works titled "Spasebo Blues", which displays his versatility as a classically influenced and rock influenced performer.
The other difference in this performance from the studio work is that all of the "Trilogy" songs are sung by Joe Lynn Turner. Suffice to say, although Turner has a lower natural range than Mark Boals, he handles the screams much better. He gives stand out performances on both "Liar" and "Queen in Love". If he had sung on the studio album that these songs came from, I could have given that album a higher rating.
All of the "Odyssey" songs are well done also. Yngwie's solos are a bit more energetic, as are Jens Johannsen's synth solos. But I must say that the increased rawness that Joe Lynn Turner's voice has on these songs give it a needed contrast from the polished studio versions. If I had to pick a favorite song from the 4th studio album on this performance, it would have to be "Dreaming". In addition to the amazing vocal performance on here, we are treated to a short acoustic guitar rendition of Bach's Little Fugue in G minor. This work would appear again on Yngwie's latest studio album "Unleash the Fury" as a guitar duet.
There is one weak link on this performance however, and that is the Jimi Hendrix cover that Yngwie selected to close this show with. I'm sorry, but this is probably my least favorite Jimi Hendrix song of all time. "Manic Depression" or maybe "Voodoo Child" would have been a much more affective closer. But in all fairness, Yngwie pulls it off well and gives us some great pentatonic work.
In conclusion, this is an essential live album for the shred metal faithful. It rivals any performance put forth by Eddie Van Halen, Stever Vai, and perhaps even Joe Satriani. Although I am partial to his more recent 1998 performance "Yngwie Malmsteen Live", this is an amazing performance that I keep coming back to again and again.