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ΦEARTH - 'Live In The USA' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     October 12, 2013    
 
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Remarkable.

Several veneers of frustration envelop this reviewer as he contemplates what he is going to say about this album. He has still not seen the band live. Firstly, the festival at which he was going to do so was cancelled; secondly (although chronologically firstly) ROSFEST 2012, at which this amazing performance was recorded was but a two hour drive away from where he was staying at the start of the day in question (although he was on a train headed for New Orleans by the time of their performance); and thirdly – and in some ways most significantly, right at the time of this album's launch, vocalist Claire Malin announced that she was leaving the band for personal reasons.

So now, I never will see this version of the band live, and I'm gutted, as this album is the definitive proof of how far the band had developed – and significantly demonstrated here – as a remarkably tight, confident and effective live act, bringing their frequently quite complex material to life and doing so with aplomb. The word "unique" can be severely overused, but is quite apt in the context of this British prog rock ensemble and my previous reviews have, I hope, suggested just how special they are.

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For their 75 minute performance in Gettysburg, PA, IOEarth selected a set finely balanced between their two albums, so that the first five songs from 'Moments' were featured, including the absolutely sublime 'Live Your Life (Parts 1 & 2)', the wondrous title track, 'Drifting' and 'Cinta Indah', demonstrating how many global influences infuse their music, while the debut was represented by six numbers, including the concluding four songs on the night. 'The Creation' has become a huge guitar-led number; there are not many in the band's repertoire, so Dave Cureton makes the most of his opportunity in the limelight to demonstrate his six-string prowess. Two of the interestingly varied instrumentals from this album were featured: 'Storyteller' and 'Light & Shade', while the absolutely magnificent 'Harmonix' that seems to have grown considerably in stature from its studio inception was chosen as the encore to close a truly wonderful performance.

Live albums do not always "do it" for me, but this one is a complete triumph – not just the inspired performance by every member of the band, but also the way this has been captured so perfectly by audio recordist Mike Potter and then so wonderfully mixed by Miguel Seco. Remarkable!

Paul Jerome Smith

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