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Progressive Rock DVD/Video Reviews

Erik Norlander

And Friends - Live in St. Petersburg DVD

Review by Gary Hill

As to be expected from Erik Norlander and his friends, the newly released DVD documenting his landmark concert in St. Petersburg, Russia (and chronicling the three-month 2004 tour as they traveled east from California to the Russian city) is another must-have from this group. It contains 90 minutes and 15 songs from the St. Petersburg concert, which features the vocals of Lana Lane and Kelly Keeling. Keeling also plays bass in the concert switching between fretless and fretted bases throughout the show. Also joining Norlander on stage are the Dutch musicians Peer Verschuren on guitar and Ernst Van Ee on drums. Both toured with Norlander and Lane previously on their earlier European and Japanese tours and recorded on other albums, including Stars Rain Down and Lady Macbeth. Also included on the DVD is footage of Verschuren's guitar solo.

Norlander and his friends performed several tracks from Norlander's 2003 rock opera Music Machine including; "Beware the Vampires," "Fallen," "Sky Full of Stars" and "One of the Machines." Norlander also included covers by some of his favorite artists. One such songs his version of the Procol Harum classic "A Salty Dog" with Keeling out front on the vocals. "A Salty Dog" was brought into the set to follow Norlander's Rocket Scientists standard, "Mariner," which Keeling also takes to new heights with his soaring vocals and fluid fretless bass. A mix of favorites from other earlier recordings rounded out the concert. Tracks that were included were "Fanfare for Absent Friends Part One," "Neurosaur," "Dreamcurrents," "Alexandria," "Guardian Angel," "Oblivion Days" and "Secrets of Astrology."

The DVD also includes a 45-minute documentary of the three-month tour entitled "The Road to Russia." This feature contains interviews with Norlander, Lana Lane, Kelly Keeling, Peer Verschuren and Ernst Van Ee, along with additional concert performances from American and European shows, beginning with scenes at the inaugural CalProg festival in Southern California on July 3 of that year. About the CalProg footage, according to Norlander, "I was asked to play a solo set there as I had done at ProgWest, Alfa Centauri and other events in previous years, with Mark McCrite, Kelly Keeling and Lana Lane. I am happy to include here our version of "In the Court of the Crimson King" starring Lana and featuring these other two excellent singers." Norlander's tribute to King Crimson also includes an inserted nod to Vivaldi and Grieg. The documentary also features performance footage of "Sky Full of Stars" and "Mariner" from the European Tour and a new studio recording of "From Russia With Love" (the James Bond theme) with a video montage of the group's visit to Russia.

This DVD also contains a bonus audio CD with78 minutes and 14 of the best tracks from the concert along with two studio tracks. That studio numbers include a cover of "From Russia With Love" Lane's vocals and "Fanfare for Absent Friends" (also featuring Don Schiff) on the bass and NS Stick. Some highlights from the tour -- particularly songs that don't appear on other live releases such as "Dreamcurrents, "Fallen," "A Salty Dog" and Lana's "Guardian Angel" along with a full - band version of "Alexandria" are also to be found on this CD. The Live in St. Petersburg DVD is expertly mixed in Dolby Stereo and also in DTS 5.1 Surround to capture all the subtle nuances of the concert experience. The release is well produced and the concert footage is excellently filmed, shooting the band at its best with multi camera angles.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

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