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Ayreon Universe: Best of Ayreon Live (DVD)

It's been well documented over the years that Ayreon mastermind Arjen Anthony Lucassen has a deep fear of live performing, which had made it virtually impossible for fans to experience the bombastic progressive rock & metal stylings of his project Ayreon in a concert setting�until now that is. Finally figuring out a way to make this all happen, Lucassen assembled a stellar cast of musicians back in 2017 in Tilburg to create a few nights of live Ayreon music, under the moniker of Ayreon Universe, that was filmed and recorded as Best of Ayreon Live. With Lucassen taking a back seat from the stage (though he does pop up late in the show) to put it all together behind the scenes, he allows his 'stars' to really shine here and recreate some of the best songs from the stellar Ayreon catalog. Floor & Irene Janson, Marcela Bovio, Jonas Renske, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Hansi Kursch, Robert Soeterboek, Marcel Coenen, Ed Warby, Tommy Karevik, Damian Wilson, Marco Hietala, and Joost van Den Broek are just a few of the many musicians who take part in this event, many of whom appeared on the original albums.

With top notch production values and impeccable performances, you'll be glued to your TV and enraptured by all the sumptuous sounds created by this cast on that very special evening. Taken from the second show on September 16, 2017, the fans at the 013 Peppodium in Tilburg witnessed an event like no other, enjoying in some of the best of the Ayreon repertoire performed live for the first time. Seeing Anneke, Floor, and Marcela on stage singing together is a priceless moment in prog history, and tracks like "Dawn of a Million Souls", "Into the Black Hole", "Everybody Dies", "Dreamtime", and "The Two Gates" are just super here. Heavy riffs, orchestral keys, majestic vocals, and a flair for the dramatic abound throughout, and when Lucassen finally comes out late in the set to shyly address the crowd and soak in the adulation, eventually grabbing his guitar and joining in on the fun, all make this such a magical experience.

Basically, if you are going to purchase any live prog/metal concert DVD this year, Best of Ayreon Live is an absolute no brainer! You get the full show, plus a bonus disc containing a wealth of fascinating interviews with the cast and some rehearsal footage. Mandatory viewing!

Track Listing
1. "Prologue" (from The Final Experiment) Michael Mills 3:57
2. "Dreamtime" (from The Final Experiment) Edward Reekers 2:31
3. "Abbey of Synn" (from Actual Fantasy) Robert Soeterboek 4:16
4. "River of Time" (from 01011001) Hansi K�rsch, Marco Hietala 3:58
5. "The Blackboard" (from The Theory of Everything; lyrics by Lucassen and Lori Linstruth) Mills, Marcela Bovio 1:52
6. "The Theory of Everything" (from The Theory of Everything; lyrics by Lucassen and Linstruth) Mills, Bovio 4:38
7. "Merlin's Will" (from The Final Experiment) Floor Jansen 3:10
8. "Waking Dreams" (from 01011001; music by Lucassen and Anneke van Giersbergen) Jonas Renkse, Anneke van Giersbergen 3:40
9. "Dawn of a Million Souls" (from Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator) John Jaycee Cuijpers 5:08
10. "Valley of the Queens" (from Into the Electric Castle) Van Giersbergen, F. Jansen, Bovio 2:50
11. "Ride the Comet" (from 01011001) Renkse, Maggy Luyten 3:41
12. "Star of Sirrah" (from The Source) Mills, Luyten, K�rsch, F. Jansen 5:56
13. "Comatose" (from 01011001) Van Giersbergen, Renkse 2:58
14. "Day Sixteen: Loser" (from The Human Equation; lyrics by Lucassen and Devin Townsend) Mills 4:42
15. "And the Druids Turn to Stone" (from Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer) Damian Wilson 4:42
16. "The Two Gates" (from Into the Electric Castle) Cuijpers, Wilson; spoken vocals by Irene Jansen 6:00
17. "Into the Black Hole" (from Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator) Tommy Karevik 6:11
18. "Actual Fantasy" (from Actual Fantasy) Reekers 1:25
19. "Computer Eyes" (from Actual Fantasy) Reekers, Soeterboek 4:35
20. "Magnetism" (from The Theory of Everything; lyrics by Lucassen and Linstruth) Karevik, Van Giersbergen, Hietala 4:45
21. "Age of Shadows" (from 01011001; music by Lucassen, Van Giersbergen, and Jonas Renkse) Hietala, K�rsch, F. Jansen 4:48
22. "Intergalactic Space Crusaders" (from Star One's Space Metal) Wilson, Luyten 5:33
23. "Collision" (from The Theory of Everything; lyrics by Lucassen and Linstruth) Karevik, Hietala 3:36
24. "Everybody Dies" (from The Source; lyrics and music by Lucassen and Mike Mills) Mills, Karevik, K�rsch, Luyten, F. Jansen 5:01
25. "The Castle Hall" (from Into the Electric Castle) Soeterboek, Wilson 6:30
26. "Amazing Flight In Space" (from Into the Electric Castle) Jay van Feggelen, Arjen Anthony Lucassen 6:20
27. "Day Eleven: Love" (from The Human Equation) Reekers, Bovio, Soeterboek, I. Jansen, Lisette van den Berg, Ed Warby 4:04
28. "The Eye of Ra" (from Star One's Space Metal) Wilson, Cuijpers, I. Jansen, F. Jansen, K�rsch, Karevik, Van Giersbergen, Hietala, Renkse, Mills, Bovio, Soeterboek, Reekers, Van Feggelen, Luyten, Van den Berg, Lucassen 5:51

Added: September 5th 2019
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2171
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Ayreon Universe: Best of Ayreon Live (DVD)
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2019-09-06 02:16:30
My Score:

If you have been following the progressive rock scene over the last number of years you will be familiar with Ayreon, led by Arjen Anthony Lucassen. The maestro of excess and bombast (meant as a complement by the way) released Ayreon Universe " Best Of Ayreon Live in 2018. I will admit to being a huge fan of Mr. Lucassen and his many projects and Ayreon, for me, has always been at or near the top of the heap of my ‘best of’ list at the end of the year. I haven’t heard an Ayreon disc I didn’t like and this live document is really something special. Even more so due to the fact that Lucassen doesn’t really like to play live (has intense stage fright) although perhaps he feels differently since working on the Universe project and performing on a couple of tracks. What has always amazed me about Ayreon is the number of musicians and vocalists that have taken part over the years. The sheer scope of talent he has always managed to obtain is truly breathtaking. This production is no different with a total of eleven instrumentalists and eighteen vocalists. That so many musicians wanted to be involved in this project tells you much about the man.

There are a total of twenty-eight tracks and almost two and a half hours of music. The sound is huge and epic with dramatic bursts of prog metal like in the awesome “Everybody Dies” and Lisette van den Berg’s amazing vocals but there are also atmospheric moments as well. Take “Comatose” as a prime example. It’s moody atmosphere is just so soul wrenching and topped with incredible vocals from Jonas Renkse and Anneke van Giersbergen. The majestic “The Theory Of Everything” with its sweeping orchestrations and metallic crunch, the super catchy “Intergalactic Space Crusaders” and the epic sounding “The Eye Of Ra” are more great cuts. The latter two are taken form the Star One project.

Besides the concert you also get a seventeen minute compilation taken from the ‘Try Out’ show, a rehearsal recorded two weeks before the concert and a behind the scenes documentary delving into the entire process with insight from the musicians and singers, including Lucassen. This is a must see for Ayreon fans.

I should also note the sound quality and video production is superb, very clean and crisp effectively bringing the concert to life. You really can’t ask for any more than that.

Ayreon Universe is a stellar live performance. So much care and detail went into this concert it really is stunning, both aurally and visually. Very highly recommended indeed.

*This is a review of the Blu-ray edition*

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