Live In Athens (DVD)
posted on 3/2006 By:
Fates Warning’s big fat Greek DVD captures the prog stalwarts playing to a packed Athens club in February of 2005. Joining the core FW trio of Jim Matheos, Ray Alder, and Joey Vera (of the phenomenal Armored Saint), are ex-axe man Frank Aresti and drummer Nick D’Vergilio (Spock’s Beard). The band puts forth the proficient, professional effort that you’d expect from these vets, so the deciding factor for whether or not you should add Live in Athens to your ever present and ever growing wish list, is your preference for the band’s newer prog rock leanings. It comes as little surprise that the lion’s share of the material is culled from the band’s later offerings, but many will be disappointed that the John Arch era is wholly ignored, and even No Exit contributes only one track, the satisfying “Quietus”. The remainder of the fifteen tracks that comprised the band’s hour and a half set are spread fairly evenly across the Alder-era, with current effort X, the highly regarded Parallels, and Disconnected contributing three tracks apiece, while A Pleasant Shade of Gray, Inside Out, and Perfect Symmetry are each represented once or twice. A good setlist, just not a great one.
Good but not quite great is actually a running theme on Live In Athens, as nearly every aspect of the DVD is solid, but lacking in some way, albeit usually a small one. The video quality is pretty average; entirely watchable but the colors are a little dull and the camera work, while thankfully not cut-blitzed, sometimes has odd timing for close ups and attention. No such problem with the audio, Bill Metoyer’s recording is crisp and full. Still, audiophiles will lament that the show is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 rather than 5.1. The performance itself is expectedly strong. The only complaint, and perhaps it’s more observation than complaint, is that while Alder still has a voice that many would kill for, he now avoids some of the high notes that he could easily tackle in days past. The crowd surely didn’t seem to have any complaints, as they enthusiastically greeted each song. Highlights include both older material like Parallels’ “Life in Still Water” and No Exit’s “Quietus”, as well as newer cuts like “Simple Human” and “Heal Me”, both from X. The show ends well, with the band closing the set with a blazing version of “Monument”, before coming back out for encores of the dark, prog-rich epic “Still Remains” (including keyboard work by Kevin Moore), and “Nothing Left to Say”.
DVD extras rarely provide much selling point, and Live in Athens is no different. Footage from Holland’s Headway Festival 2005 is included, featuring Mike Portnoy on drums, but the two songs featured, “Another Perfect Day” and “The Eleventh Hour” are both included in the full concert, and the sound and video quality here is less impressive. Also included are excerpts from Bulgarian television (thanks!) and rehearsal and soundcheck footage. Despite minor complaints, Live in Athens is a solid effort and will no doubt be well received by the Fates Warning loyal.
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