SBB have to be both one of the most enduring and influential bands on the Polish music scene. Since their inception in the early 70's this trio, which consists of founding members Jozef Skrzek (keyboards, vocals) and Apostolis Anthimos (guitars) as well as relative newcomer Gabor Nemeth on the drums, has ventured into many different styles, touching on blues, jazz and fusion, and more significantly symphonic progressive rock. This concert recorded at the inaugural Prog Rock Festival in early 2009 in Poland finds these seasoned veterans weaving their magic in an absolutely majestic setting, the Wyspianski Theater in Katowice.
Not only does the concert feature some fantastic all round performances from each individual musician, but the superior visuals of this concert makes it a veritable feast for the eyes. The various multi-camera angles allow you to enjoy the show from different vantage points, whether it's an over the top view from the back of the theater to a feeling of being right on the stage as the camera pans languidly across the frame, quietly observing each of the players at work, it all flows seamlessly. The lighting is also stellar and really accentuates the music played here. A good portion of the show finds the trio performing under a delicate shade of blue which further adds to the depth and warmth of the music.
Over the course of this two hour show the band offers up songs from across their back catalogue of work, mixing up older compositions such as "Freedom With Us" and "Zywiec Mountain Melody" with more recent songs like "Defilada" and "Camelele" from The Iron Curtain (2009) as well as the title track "Skala" from The Rock (2007). Jozef Skrzek and Apostolis Anthimos are both given ample opportunity to stretch out and display their wide range of musical chops, especially Anthimos who takes more than a few lengthy solos. For example the extended jam on the fifteen minute "Odlot" is a particular highlight, as is his funky, blues workout on "Rainbow Man". He also gets in some work on the drums as well as a second, smaller kit is setup onstage for his mid show drum battle with Nemeth. While I'd have to admit that Skrzek's vocals which are both sung in Polish and English, are a bit of an acquired taste and not what I'd consider to be the bands strongest asset, he does however more than make up for his vocal shortcomings with some absolutely inspired work on the keyboards, especially on the Hammond organ in particular.
At the conclusion of the concert the DVD also provides an informative behind the scenes documentary which features interviews with all three members as well as a look at them in the studio preparing material for The Iron Curtain album. This is a very solid and well put together DVD that reveals just how adept these musicians really are. SBB appears to be on a bit of a roll of sorts with their last two albums, and after watching this concert from beginning to end it's easy to see why. The band has reached a certain comfort level that is allowing them to both create and perform their music in such a way that nothing seems the least bit contrived. If you want to witness for yourself what this legendary progressive act is capable of then I would strongly suggest picking up this inspiring live document.
4) Going Away / Zywiec Mountain Melody
5) Freedom With Us
6) Skala (The Rock)
7) Piesn Stojacego w Bramie
8) Drum Battle / Walkin' Around The Stormy Bay
9) Iron Curtain
10) Pielgrzym (Pilgrim)
11) Z ktorych krwi krew moja
12) Rainbow Man
14) Walkin' Around The Stormy Bay - Reprise