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Robert Berry's 3.2

Alive at Progstock

Review by Gary Hill

This new set is a double CD with bonus DVD. It captures a concert that feels more like an event than just a gig. The DVD has the same music as the CD set but as video, and well shot video at that. Robert Berry is an extremely accomplished musician who has been involved in so many projects over the years. I'm a big fan of him as a musician and a person. A lot of this show is stories about the creation of the various projects and music here. That lends a certain connection to the music. The thing is, it's powerful stuff with or without that. I just think it tends to make it more special. This is prog of the more AOR variety, and it's so strong. Berry provides acoustic guitar, bass and vocals, while Paul Keller tackles lead guitar and vocals, Andrew Colyer plays keys and also sings and Jimmy Keegan is the drummer and another vocalist. I can't recommend this set enough if you like melodic, mainstream prog.

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Track by Track Review
CD 1

This is just what it says it is, an extended spoken introduction.

Life Beyond L.A.
This powerhouse rocker has some definite prog tendencies. Overall, though, I'd consider this to be more of a mainstream hard rock tune. It's energetic, catchy and so classy.
We get another long spoken break here.
No One Else to Blame
This is no less energetic, but it's a driving rocker that has more prog tendencies to it. They don't sacrifice the hooks to get that, though. It's the kind of AOR progressive rock that was big with bands like Asia. I consider this a step up from the opener, and that tune was very good, so that tells you a lot. There is some really scorching guitar work on this thing. The instrumental break late is positively on fire.
By this point you know what this is, right.
Desde La Vida
Starting with weird Moog work, after that introduction the piece turns heavy. It works out to a decidedly ELP like jam of the meaty, yet mainstream, variety. This is definitely the most purely progressive rock based thing to this point of the show. It has some killer twists and turns and some smoking hot musical passages. There is some neo-classical stuff mid-track on this.
Here we get another spoken piece.
Powerful Man
This comes in closer to the AOR end of the spectrum. That said there is still plenty of prog magic here.
I probably don't need to tell you what this is.
Last Ride into the Sun
Keyboards with a focus on piano start this tune. The vocals come in over the top of that with a balladic approach in control as the number gets going. It eventually works out to more rocking zones as it continues. There is a real driving AOR vibe to some of this that works particularly well. In fact, I'd consider this to be one of the highlights of the set. There is a full-on prog break later in the tune along with some intriguing twists and turns. There are definitely some ELP-like sections in these later passages. It really does get into some smoking hot prog zones the further it makes it toward the end.
Here we get another spoken piece.
Minstrel in the Gallery
I have always said that if you are going to cover a song, you need to change it enough to make it your own. As Berry said in the introduction to this, that was his intention here. The proof that he succeeded is in the music. You can still hear the song (and even some of Ian Anderson's vocal character) in this cut, but it feels more like an ELP take on the song. This works really well. It has a great prog rocking energy and sound.
There is some guitar tuning and demonstration during the introduction here.
You Do or You Don't

Acoustic guitar and vocals are the concept as this track gets underway. It's not so much a prog piece as it is a folk rock one, and nothing else is added to the mix.

CD 2

There is a mysterious opening movement built around keyboard sounds. It's definitely of the "make it your own" school. They come in with a familiar riff for a moment, but then it keeps working forward somewhat tentatively at first. The cut begins to coalesce in new ways with a lot of style. Then it fires out into an intriguing arrangement on some of the familiar concepts of the classic Yes number.

This introduction talks about the song that preceded it, the next song and more.
Can't Let Go
A powerhouse AOR prog rocker, this is a lot of class. It's definitely on the mainstream side of the equation.
I don't need to tell you what this is, right?
Somebody's Watching
Combining the proggy side of ELP with a more mainstream AOR rock angle, this is a killer tune.
Talkin' Bout
This is another that has an AOR edge to it. There are some killer hooks, but also some exceptional keyboard work and some intriguing changes. This is a hard rocking and accessible song.
Eight Miles High
Here we get another cover song. This is a powerhouse proggy version of the Byrds classic and it turns to some ELP-like stuff at the end.
This is another spoken introduction.
Deck the Halls
I love the December People albums, so getting this powerhouse rendition of a song from those discs is a real plus.
While it's not listed on the back cover of the package, there is an introduction piece here, the penultimate one of the set.
Watcher of the Skies
I have always loved this Genesis song. I'd say that this one is played a bit more "by the numbers" than the other covers have been. That said, it's still got plenty of unique characteristics to it. I might actually like this more than the original version of the tune. It's just so strong. The instrumental section late in the track definitely brings some of those new concepts and some seriously fierce ones at that.
Here we get the final introduction of the show.
Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression, Part 1)
ELP is on the menu here with this powerhouse rendition of the classic number. It's faithful and yet freshened up and altered at the same time. This is a screaming hot powerhouse rendition.
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