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The Johnny and Axel Show. - 91%

hells_unicorn, September 30th, 2006

Axel Rudi Pell has been through it all, the rise of heavy metal in Germany during the mid 80s, it's fall from grace in the early 90s, and it's rather rapid and powerful rebirth in the late 90s. From beginning to end, he has never compromised his sound, his style, or the spirit of his music. Long after it was fashionable to play guitar like Ritchie Blackmore and write lyrics sounding like Ronnie Dio, ARP kept doing it, and never once did they falter in their quest to bring forth the magic and the majesty.

This concert, from start to finish, is nearly 2 hours of 5 very seasoned musicians rocking hard and having a great time. Outside of the metal genre, you will never encounter this kind of dedication to your music, this stand up ideal of trying to outdo your own studio releases in one take in front of thousands of fans. Some of the old timers in the classic rock scene like Kiss and the Scorpions do it, but you will be hard pressed to find any modern rock band today with this kind of dedication live.

Axel is playing his heart out throughout, and is actually playing more complex versions of his solos than what you will find on the studio releases. Most of the material is either taken from the album they were touring on (Shadow Zone) or from the first album. However, the part where he really shines as a player is during the longer jam sessions such as "Casbah" off of Between the Walls and "Carousel" from Oceans of Time.

Johnny Gioeli is in top form on this album from start to finish. There is pretty much no way to make a distinction between the studio version of his vocals and what he's doing here, that's how on point he is. Stand out vocal performances on this release include "The Masquerade Ball" medley (including the rather humorous Reggae version of Casbah) and "Tear down the walls".

Mike Terrana and Ferdy Doernberg are also in top form here, and provide us with some very amazing solos, particularly Mike's and I quote "destroy this drumset" routine. The rhythm section as a whole is extremely together throughout, but "Edge of the World" and "Follow the Sign" are the strongest demonstrations of the polish they possess.

The bonus material on here includes two old music videos from Axel's back catalog, including "The deeper the night" from his Steeler days, which is a nostalgic moment for any fan of 80s traditional metal. We also have an interview with Axel where he gives us the history of his career as a musician. His tone is very subdued, lacking the pretentious babbling that many bands nowadays engage in. The man lives the life of a true musician, he loves the music that he creates, and that is what he wants others to judge him by. And based on the fine product he provides us, he gets my vote for a top role model for the aspiring lead guitarist/frontman.

In conclusion, this is an amazing live performance from a band that has seen the good and bad days of metal come and go, a band that is driven to make the remaining days that they have the best that they can be. Unfortunately I have not yet been able to catch ARP live yet, but in the next few years I may be doing some traveling to see them.