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Circus Maximus - 'Havoc In Oslo' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/a0/cc/0a/Circus-Maximus-Havoc-Live-In-Oslo-82-1513973169.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 22, 2017    
 
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A real audio\visual treat.

Circus Maximus are my favourite Prog band. When I worked for Firefest, I was instrumental in getting them on the show, and I sat like a fan boy at the front with a cheesy grin on my face. There, now that is that out of the way, onto my thoughts and a review of their latest offering 'Havoc In Oslo'.

If you have watched the crowdfunded 'Live In Japan' video, you will have seen the youthful exuberance of the band playing a huge show at the Loud Park Festival promoting the album 'Nine'... and playing it extremely well. Since then, the band have become serial beardies (with the exception of the keyboard player) and have brought out their latest album 'Havoc', a less Progressive album than their previous offerings, but one that has been overplayed by me to the point of saturation and I still love it. This live CD/DVD combo is Circus Maximus at their absolute finest, playing to some very lucky people at the Rockefeller Music Hall in Oslo in February 2016.

A live DVD for a Progressive band is a bit of a misnomer, since most Prog bands are rarely visual and often not actually alive; thankfully Circus Maximus are blessed with stunning good looks and sex appeal of such magnitude that a T-Rex would become over-excited at the mere thought of them – yes? No? Maybe...? However, the editing keeps the watcher happy by capturing the best bits, sometimes a little annoyingly flicking between shots too quickly. Any musicians out there will get an intimate view of Lasse Finbråten's freaky fingers, Truls Haugen's titillating toes and Mats Haugen's dextrous digits, while Glen Møllen pounds relentlessly on the bass, foot on monitor and staring menacingly at the crowd, daring them to criticise - not many are going to chance that methinks. The lighting is a little dark at times and bordering on strobe overload too often, but it's a live setting and if that's a gripe then I think they'd be happy with that.

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Our MC for the evening is Michael Eriksen, and he plays a blinder – note perfect throughout and smiling infectiously. This does provide visual evidence that this particular Norwegian chap lacks sweat glands; he wears a leather jacket for the first half hour of this video, while the poor drummer looks like he's been dipped in a bucket of water – how can you be trusted if you don't sweat? The whole thing is played flawlessly from beginning to end, the mix is sympathetic to each instrument and the addition of the backing vocal tracks are tasteful and are not too over the top. This is exactly how backing tracks (if you use them) should be used, sparingly but effectively. There are no standout moments because the whole show is outstanding! The set-list has songs from all four of their studio albums, but primarily favour 'Nine' and 'Havoc'. 'Sin' is from 'The 1st Chapter', and 'Abyss' and 'Arrival Of Love' (with its ludicrously splendid riff) represent 'Isolate'.

Now, since this was recorded in Norway, Eriksen speaks in Norwegian between songs, but this is kept to a minimum because they play at a frenetic pace, segueing between songs like a band that play several hundred shows a year instead of a couple every few years. They really are a painfully talented bunch. Mats Haugen and Finbråten play their solos note perfect to the album, and when they do deviate it's done sometimes to the betterment of the solo; considering how good the originals are, this is no mean feat.
The package you can purchase is available as 2CD/DVD or Blu-ray set and contains fifteen songs; regarding the audio discs, the first has nine songs and the second has six. The whole thing was crowdfunded and the names of the funders appear at the very end of the video which is a nice touch. The funders also got a t-shirt and some band picks. The retail price for this album is expensive, but in my opinion worth every penny.

This is probably the best live album I've heard for many years, and with the addition of the DVD you also get to see how they perform; together, that makes this package a real audio\visual treat.

Tony Marshall

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