Ken Hensley & Live Fire - 'Live'

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Ken Hensley & Live Fire - 'Live'

One and half CDs of warm wonder.

Whoa, hang on, hang on... oh, go on then... Recently, Ken Hensley told me that Live Fire, his band, had reenergised him, with them being such youthful gents. This live album, culled from their European tour, shows that beautifully. The general feeling is of a band looking to rush ahead, being pulled back by the loooooooooong songs that the crowd expect and the music demands and bloody well delivers. This is a two CD package, one full, one half full giving it an unbalanced feel – just twenty four minutes of the second disc is not something that's often done these days.

The sound is stupendous, warm and as big as some hospital waiting lists. One of the main events is the roaring, soaring B3, Hensley's Hammond, pinning back your lugholes and bathing you in melting butter. The rest of the band find what light they may, Eirikur Hauksson uncorking a throaty bellow which pleases when it's allowed to, whilst Ken Ingwersen (remember Ken's Dojo?) runs him close with a selection of beautifully retro solos which do Mick Box proud and state his case brilliantly.

You'll get what you need; an urgent 'Easy Living'. 'Gypsy' delivered like the priceless artefact it is whilst 'Look At Yourself' gets a hefty workout. And that's often the issue, songs are stretched to their limits in order to settle into the groove and show their chops, the feeling that you get your money's worth; sometimes less can be more, here less can be best.

The crowd are a little muted, coming out for 'The Wizard' of course, but a little muted and Hensley is a lovely front-man, but tends to the loquacious, quietly telling us what the sounds are and thanking them in a variety of European languages. Of course, this band produce their own excellent fare too, showing a sense of urgency and when 'Circle Of Hands' appears, hankies may come out too, such is the heartfelt beauty of the masterful Hammond work.

For those fans of Hensley, for those aficionados of Heep, this will be a box of delights, for those just curious this will be a band showing what they can do and nailing every note, even those unnecessary ones; one and half CDs of warm wonder.

Steve Swift

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