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The Flower Kings

Live In Palatine, IL, 2002

Review by Gary Hill

Talking to those in attendance after this show it is obvious that there were two types of fans in the audience. On the one hand there were those who ate up the entire set, savoring, and even reveling in the improvisational jamming that was spread throughout the band's set.
The other group were less enthusiastic, thinking that at many times the musicians resorted to self-indulgent noodling. Count this reviewer somewhere in between. Really, in many ways what the Flower Kings are best at is not virtuosic jamming, but creating melodies which are powerful, complex, thoughtful and yet quite accessible. Indeed, there were several moments during the show where it seemed to get a bit boring to many around me. The group seemed lost in an improvisational jam, more interested in communing with each other than the audience who had paid to attend. Whereas some groups, and the number is far fewer than might be believed, can pull off such musical meanderings, most, including this one, seem to run overlong on that aspect and wander into the mundane. That point out of the way, the band really did put in a lot of good music in a 2 1/2 hour span.
The band's onstage banter and attitude was all in a spirit of good fun, adding to the likeability of the show. Their light show also certainly added to the atmosphere of the show, feeling a bit like a lower key Hawkwind set-up. Another highlight involved when keysman Tomas Bodin left the stage to sit down at a derelict piano sitting in the hall to begin playing. He made a good attempt at it, but the beast was badly out of tune, so he eventually had to call it a day and head back up to the stage. All of the rest of the members (Roine Stolt, Hasse Froberg, Jonas Reingold, and Zoltan Csörsz) put in good performances, but in many ways Bodin's sense of humor and flair stole much of the show.

One of the people I spoke with at the concert, who has seen the Flower Kings several times, said that they have two types of shows. The first are the ones that focus more on songs and less on jamming, and the other are those that lean more towards self-indulgence. We got the latter on this tour, and this reviewer would have preferred the former. Perhaps next time they will opt for the other show for a US tour.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 3 at
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