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Triumph: Live At The US Festival

Twenty years ago, a large, three-day music festival was held in the San Bernardino County hills of southern California, where Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion now resides, and where the Renaissance Faire sets up shop on an annual basis. That festival was the US Festival, realized by Apple Computers co-conspirator Steve Wozniak. A host of A-list rock & metal bands, including Ozzy Osbourne, Journey, Van Halen, and Santana, performed at the event, as did Canada's other power trio, Triumph. Triumph's too-short set has been gloriously remastered for mass consumption, so that those of us who missed their set on the 29th of May, 1983, can enjoy it, now. The sound is bright, stark and meaty, as a live concert should sound. Rik Emmett pulls off every squeaky high note he's sung on album without a hitch, and burns all of his signature leads on his Gibson axe quite flawlessly. Bassist & synthesist Mike Levine holds down the bottom end and attends to his Moogs. And Gil Moore…well, he's just Gil! Triumph roars through selections from older albums like Rock 'N' Roll Machine and Just A Game, along with newer material from their early 80s prime during Allied Forces and Never Surrender.

The Moore-sung "Allied Forces" had rightfully attained its place as a set-opener with its rousingly anthemic charm and jagged chord progression. Nonchalantly, the band launches into a group of Emmett-sung tracks. The crowd wanted Rik, and they got Rik—his cool, crystalline vocal cords were obviously most welcome in the afternoon warmth. Once reserved as a pre-encore or encore track, "Lay It On The Line" is one of their defining moments, and the video the band shot for it was clearly done years later than the album it appeared on (Just A Game—1978). "Never Surrender" is a title track as strong as any of their others, something of a ballad in disguise that boasts a great '70s neo-funk groove for a song recorded in '82; its positive message is one as ageless as Emmett's blistering solo. Gil powers through some industrial-strength fills on that cut and "Magic Power," his timing never less than rock-steady while harmonizing with Rik. Levine opens "A World Of Fantasy" with his spacey Memorymoog tones which lend themselves perfectly to the title. Roughly ninety-seconds count off before the next track in the form of a short drum solo and guitar jam that serves as a bridge to a pair of tunes that bring Gil back on lead vocals: the testosterone-laced, hi-octane foot-stompers, "Rock & Roll Machine," and "When The Lights Go Down," the latter of which features one of Mike's best basslines. Rik takes his solo spot in-between, progressing from hard blues to a beautiful, quasi-metal, Spanish guitar-flavored section. Exuding no signs of wear & tear, the band brings its set to a showstopping boil with a seven minute-plus rendition of "Fight The Good Fight."

Live At The US Festival contains a bonus DVD sampler of one selection from each of three DVDs: the aforementioned "Fight The Good Fight" from the DVD of the same name; "Spellbound" from A Night Of Triumph Live; and the live promo of "Follow Your Heart" from Greatest Hits (which also appears in audio form as a bonus track on the US disc). "Follow Your Heart" is originally from Thunder Seven, and sounds just like the studio version, with audience noise (perhaps it is). A Night Of Triumph Live was originally issued on VHS, taken from the Halifax stop on Triumph's A Sport Of Kings tour that featured Rick Santers as touring keyboardist and second lead guitarist. That's correct, Rik & Rick! Rik's Aqua-net hair and striped spandex are just hilarious. Despite Emmett's & Santers' combined talent, the live treatment of "Spellbound" is sub-par, and a new section slows the track down, wherein Gil invites the audience to become a "part of the show"—enter: hologram!

It's already been over a decade since Triumph's Rikless album, Edge Of Excess, and Moore & Levine, and Emmett, are still as productive as ever. Emmett has a slew of solo albums to his credit, and Moore & Levine run Triumph's Metalworks studio (where Rush's recent CD, Vapor Trails, was mixed) and their reissue label, TRC Records. Nevertheless, every telltale sign still indicates there is no hope of Rik rejoining his old bandmates. At least one new album project (and tour) failed to materialize in 1998 or 1999 because of this. For now, we can indulge in a bona fide new Triumph release, even if it's a live CD—one that reaffirms what a great live act they once were.

Added: October 19th 2003
Reviewer: Elias Granillo
Score:
Related Link: Rock and Roll Machine: Triumph
Hits: 3805
Language: english

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Triumph: Live At The US Festival
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-08-20 06:59:09
My Score:

Released in celebration of the band's 20th anniversary of the legendary performance at the 1983 US Festival comes "Live At The US Festival", and it's a concert recording that finds Canada's own Triumph as a band on top of their game and aiming straight for the future with excellence. The band was appearing on the bill during the Rock day of the Festival and was touring in support of their "Never Surrender" album but despite that being the release the guys would deliver a set loaded with numbers from their earlier albums as well. The CD captures the entire set of eight songs and it's a stunning performance that can only be considered flawless in its overall sound and sonic delivery. The bonus ninth track is a live recording of "Follow Your Heart", the blockbuster tune that would come from the "Never Surrender" follow up "Thunder Seven". Triumph was an amazing band of three musicians and while their number matched Rush, they were a little more straight ahead Power Rock than their Progressive countrymen and were one of the core groups who the term "Arena Rock" was coined about. Fans of the band will attest to their abilities any day of the week and if you were lucky enough to have seen them live back in the day then you know exactly what I am talking about. They always sounded bigger than a three piece band and that was because of the shared vocals of Rik Emmett and Gil Moore and the very powerful and tasty Heavy Rock that they were always delivering. While the set list is rather short there are nothing but their most revered anthems in it and that makes this a perfect part of your ever growing CD library. There is a booklet included but its more of a foldout and there is very little to enjoy on that. There is nothing to speak of in the way of band or live performance photos.

The CD also comes with a bonus DVD that features three videos from a couple of different places. We have "Spellbound", "Fight The Good Fight" and "Follow Your Heart" presented, but only the latter track comes from the video for the US Festival. "Spellbound" comes from "A Night Of Triumph" which is a DVD film that was presented for the "Sport Of Kings" CD and "Follow Your Heart" seems to be the original video but I could have a fading memory on that one. The US Festival concert performance by Triumph was released in tandem with a DVD that features the very same songs and based on this I feel that this release should only be purchased after you have bought the film and decided that you must also have the audio version as well. Either way, this is a band that belongs in the record books for their contributions for 1983 there were not too many bands who were better at doing what they did.


Triumph: Live At The US Festival
Posted by Yves Dubé, SoT Staff Writer on 2003-10-22 07:34:37
My Score:

" I'm young, I'm wild , and I'm free..I've got the magic power of the music in me"


Half a million people shared this sentiment on that perfect day in May 1983 as Triumph ripped through a tight set of some of their greatest hits. As a follow-up to Elias' excellent review for the live CD, I'd like to add an exclamation point by briefly touching upon the recent release of Triumph's Live at The US Festival DVD.SEE the excellent , if too brief, set played on this magical day by Canada's OTHER power trio. This superb concert's only drawback may be that, since Triumph came on during the daytime, their over-the-top stage show is non-existent. However, being the true road warriors that they were during this , their prime touring era,makes this stripped down live set just as exciting as one of their full-blown pyrotechnic extravaganzas played indoors. Offered with 3 different audio tracks including DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1 , and 2.0 Stereo, this DVD is a must own for any Triumph fan who wants to relive the magic of a band at the pinnacle of it's career.


We are also treated to some great bonus material. A 40-minute rockumentary entitled Inside The Rock and Roll Machine acts as backstage pass. Roadies and technicians walk us through all the technical aspects associated with putting on a typical Triumph show during their Sport Of Kings tour. Candid interviews with all members help us get into the minds of the trio regarding their song writing processes, views about the band's rise to success, as well as certain prophetic statements concerning the band's future. Yet another bonus item is the 2003 interview with Gil Moore and Mike Levine at their Metalworks studio. Here , the boys boys reminisce about that speciall day in May and give us their unique perspective on the event.


So don't just limit yourselves to the CD, make sure you pick up this DVD as well and " turn it up 'cause it's your turn to dream. A little magic power makes it better than it seems"

Yves Dubé




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