Mangrove: Live Beyond Reality/More Or Less...An Acoustic Evening DVD's
Even though these two DVDs, Live Beyond Reality and More Or Less...An Acoustic Evening, from Dutch Progressive Rockers Mangrove were released some six months apart, in many ways they feel very much like companion pieces, right down to their Spartan, if rather neat packaging, where the spines continue into one another. Hence rather than review them separately, it feels more natural to bring the two releases together into one.
Released in 2009, Mangrove's third studio album Beyond Reality saw the band grow from being a competent, if slightly understated Progressive outfit, into fully fledged masters of the genre, with songs such as "Voyager", "Time Will Tell" and "Beyond Reality" itself, proving to be captivating, multifaceted pieces of music with the ability to transfix and inspire in equal measure. Capturing the band just as they had completed recording this album, Live Beyond Reality is notable both for being the final show that drummer Joost Hagemeijer would play with Mangrove and for capturing the whole of the Beyond Reality album live. The performance is split into two sets, a "Black Show" and a "White Show", easily distinguishable, as the band perform the first half fully attired in black, while in the second...well I think you can work it out for yourself. More importantly however the black half consists of older material from the Massive Hollowness mini-album, Touch Wood and Facing The Sun, showing the band to be confident, talented musicians, who give an engaging performance. The white half, however is Beyond Reality played in its entirety and due to the unfamiliarity that the band had with this material at this time, the approach is more concentrated and focused, although the results are, if anything even more convincing. Highlights from the first set come in the shape of the ever evolving "There Must Be Another Way", "City Of Darkness" and "Zone III", while settling on a song that isn't a highlight from the second set is actually quite a tough task, although that said "Love And Beyond" and "Beyond Reality" are stunning to say the least. Clocking in at just over two hours this release never dips, holding your attention from start to finish, which is impressive in itself, especially when you consider than it is only really singer/guitarist Roland Van Der Horst who makes much effort to roam the stage. Obviously Hagemeijer is ensconced behind his drums and keyboard player Chris Jonker is similarly trapped behind his rig (and a lack of camera time on him during the black set is rather frustrating, although it is a glitch that is rectified for the white set), although a little more animation from bassist Pieter Drost wouldn't go amiss. However that observation is an extremely nit-picky one, in what is an otherwise excellent DVD.
As its title suggests, More Or Less...An Acoustic Evening, finds Mangrove in a different setting, with acoustic guitar and bass, Hammond organ and piano being backed by session percussionist and drummer Aldert Glas, who switches from kit to hand percussion and back again numerous times, proving to be a real asset in these surroundings, especially for a "stand-in". Dressed in all white again (Horst has seriously questionable taste in frilly silk shirts by the way), this DVD is undoubtedly more about the music than the "performance" and while, as a fan of the band I found More Or Less..., to be equally captivating, if not maybe even more so than Live Beyond Reality, I would think that it would definitely be the harder of the two releases for newer fans of the band to get in to. Due partly to the fact that Mangrove record most, if not all of their shows and that Live Beyond..., wasn't initially intended for a full release eleven tracks are duplicated between the two DVDs (leaving only two exclusive to Live... and four to More...). However the opportunity to compare the vastly different arrangements and use of instruments between the two, actually makes both releases even more interesting. In fact many of the tracks on More Or Less actually need your full attention to work out exactly which song is being reinterpreted, showing the versatility of the musicians, both as performers and arrangers. Highlights this time round, although again I'm choosing the best of the best here, are an emotional "Facing The Sunset", a poignant "I Close The Book" and a raucous "Beyond Reality" (although you must have guessed by now that I do really like this song!), although as stated, I could easily pick a different three to showcase and be equally happy with the choices.
Both of these releases come in smart, if simple digi-pak cases, with a single sheet "booklet", with a nice introduction from keyboard player Chris Jonker and neither have any extras whatsoever. However in terms of their musical merits I have no hesitation in recommending either to followers of melodic Progressive Rock. For fans of the band, both are undoubtedly no-brainer purchases, although for interested newbies, I'd recommend Live Beyond Reality over More Or Less, but only as previously mentioned because it is more instantly accessible. Either way, both DVDs show Mangrove to be one of the best, under rated bands in Progressive Rock and are well worth watching again and again.
LIVE BEYOND REALITY
SET 1 The Black Show
1. I Fear The Day
2. Facing The Sunset
3. Zone III
4. Fatal Sign
5. Wizard Of Tunes
6. City Of Darkness
7. There Must Be Another Way
SET 2 The White Show
8. Daydreamer's Nightmare
9. Time Will Tell
10. Love And Beyond
11. Reality Fades
12. Beyond Reality
MORE OR LESS...AN ACOUSTIC EVENING
1. Zone I
2. Zone II
3. Zone III
4. Facing The Sunset
5. I Fear The Day
6. Wizard Of Tunes
7. I Close The Book
8. City Of Darkness
9. Fatal Sign
10. There Must Be Another Way
11. Love And Beyond
13. Time Will Tell
14. Here Comes Te Flood
15. Beyond Reality
Added: April 15th 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Mangrove Music Online
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|Mangrove: Live Beyond Reality/More Or Less...An Acoustic Evening DVD's
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-04-15 22:54:23
More Or Less is Mangrove's second DVD release of 2011 coming on the heels of Live Beyond Reality. I really enjoyed that DVD and was looking forward to see and hear what the band had to offer in an acoustic setting. Giving these songs the acoustic treatment was a bit of a risk as one never knows how they will sound acoustically, especially the more bombastic tunes.
I have to say the concert, recorded at the Gigant Theatre in Apeldoorn, Holland comes through without a hitch and all fifteen songs sound great acoustically although there were times I felt my attention beginning to sway. This is meant as no slight to the band as their playing is impeccable and all four musicians show tremendous versatility. It might be a little less adventurous than Live Beyond Reality but the different arrangements and textures more than make up for such small shortcomings and Horst's voice may actually be better suited for these more poignant offerings.
The concert begins with the "Zone" trilogy offering sparkling acoustic passages, dreamy soundscapes and fragile arrangements. "Facing The Sunset" offers a nice contrast between intense acoustic rhythms and Jonker's gently sweeping grand piano. His work here is superb showcasing his deft and subtle touch. A slow sprinkling of piano notes begins "I Fear The Day" before heading into a more powerful direction where Jonker's organ sounds are at the forefront. The organ and acoustic guitar are a great mix and the hand drumming of Aldert Glas, filling in for the departed Joost Hagemeijer, is excellent.
Other notables include the excellent "Wizard Of Tunes" where the band's groove flows wonderfully and the classical arrangement is highly intoxicating and the intriguing contrasts of "City Of Darkness", featuring somber melodies, slow builds and great acoustic guitar. Horst's performance is indeed virtuosic, a spine tingling moment for sure.
As with Live Beyond Reality, More Or Less sounds and looks great, with a clear picture and crisp instrumentation. It's also a more intimate show with increased conversations between the band members and the audience.
More Or Less successfully brings these fifteen songs back to life giving each a different essence and meaning. Superb musicianship and well-crafted acoustic arrangements means another well deserved four stars.
|Mangrove: Live Beyond Reality/More Or Less...An Acoustic Evening DVD's
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-04-15 22:49:50
Mangrove are a Dutch progressive/symphonic rock band that plays music much like those classic prog bands of the '70s. It all began back in 1995 with the project Brainstorm, a collaboration between guitarist Roland Van Der Horst and drummer Joost Hagemeijer. In 2001 they were joined by Pieter Drost (bass) and Chris Jonker (keyboards), thus forming the beginning of Mangrove. The band have four studio albums to their credit, the most recent being Beyond Reality released in 2009.
This live set is performed at the De Gigant in Apeldoorn, Holland in 2009. As it states in the liner notes the performance was never meant to make it to disc but with the help of local television and the bands own crew the project came to fruition and fans of progressive rock should be pleasantly surprised.
For those of you who have never heard Mangrove, their music is firmly planted in the '70s taking after bands like Camel, Genesis and Pink Floyd. It's not original but is very well done and each musician puts in an excellent performance.
The DVD is divided into sets 1 and 2, titled the black show and white show respectively, based on the colour of clothes worn by the band. Set 1 features selections from their first two albums Touch Wood and Facing the Sunset. The first song "I Fear The Day" brings to mind Genesis and IQ at times and has a classic symphonic rock sound. In "Facing The Sunset" the band shows both chops and a more delicate nature with smooth transitions and nice build ups. It's an adventurous tune which takes time to run its course. Horst's vocals may take some time getting used to as he does not have an overly powerful voice and is quite fragile in places but overall he does a good job and his guitar playing is excellent throughout. "Zone III" is a moody ballad in the vein of Pink Floyd or Marillion and flows directly into "Fatal Sign" an introspective piece with more references to Pink Floyd, especially Jonker's moody keyboard work. The first set ends with "There Must Be Another Way" and Jorst's pretty acoustic guitar and Gilmouresque electric leads. Floyd aficionados should love this one.
The second set has the band dressed in white and features their last studio album Beyond Reality done in its entirety. The Genesis inspired "Daydreamer's Nightmare" opens the set in grand style. The band exhibits great dynamic range transitioning between heavier bombast where they really cook up a progressive storm to more mellower introspective parts. The vocals sound a little fragile as Horst reminds me of Gabriel in places. "Time Will Tell" features classic build ups, melodic rhythms and one dreamier section that drips of Pink Floyd. It might not be original but is so well done I don't mind one bit. A tolling bell opens "Reality Fades", perhaps a direct reference to Floyd's "Division Bell". Swells of keys and ripping bass are the highlights here. The organ drenched "Voyager" ends the concert on a moodier note with soothing guitar textures and more great build ups.
Fans of symphonic progressive rock are in for a real treat with Live Beyond Reality. The DVD looks and sounds great as well. Kudos to the band for putting together such a professional package. There are no extras, just two hours of great music.
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