The year 2004 is a very good year for Glass Hammer fans. Next to the “Shadowlands” album, which I described as their next masterpiece of epic symphonic rock, the band has released two valuable live documents. The first one is this DVD called “Lex live”. It showcases Glass Hammer’s 8-member NEARfest 2003 lineup featuring Steve Babb, Fred Schendel, Walter Moore, Matt Mendians, Susie Bogdanowicz, Flo Paris and Bethany Warren. But … this DVD is not recorded at NEARfest 2003! Only the bonus features shows a glimpse of that gig. On the cover are no details about where this DVD was filmed. After browsing through the bands webpage I can only guess that it must have been recorded on September 22, 2004 at the Rhythm and Brews in Chattanooga. The second document is the CD “Live at NEARfest”. And yes, these are the recordings of the famous NEARfest 2003 gig.
The concert part of the DVD includes one track of “Perelandra” (“Heaven”), two tracks of “Chronometree” (“Chronotheme” and “Chronos Deliverer”) and five tracks of the “Lex Rex”album (“Tales of the great wars”, “One king”, “Further up – further in”, “Cup of trembling” and “When we were young”). If you want a description of those epic symphonic compositions, I would advise you to read my Glass Hammer CD reviews.
The importance of this release is that we Europeans can see the band performing live on stage. Because of their studio albums people have high expectations. Musically the band is satisfactory in every way. As keyboard lover it is great to see Fred Schendel working with all those keyboards. But all the musicians show high musical skills and derive great pleasure in playing those pieces. The bonus features (55 minutes!) include some surprises for the Glass Hammer die-hards. It is great to see an acoustic gig which is developing in one of the hotel rooms before the NEARfest gig. But why only three stars for a Glass Hammer product. Well the reason is because I’m disappointed in the end result. The music is great but the camera work is in my opinion below the high standards of the band. Probably there was not enough room for the camera operators. When you watch the concert you have the feeling that you are standing also on the stage. There is no overview and you can’t see anything of the lightshow. When you see the amateur shots of the NEARfest gig which is included in the bonus material you will understand my point of view. “It could have been so much better”.
The DVD is a must for every Glass Hammer fan, but don’t be disappointed because you expect the very high standards of today (like the releases of Steve Hackett, Peter Gabriel, Marillion orYes). Of course this has also to do with the budget. Glass Hammer is an independent band and has not the resources of a big record company. But if you can overcome this demerit you still can have a lot of fun watching this DVD. Glass Hammer is one of the best symphonic rock bands in the world.