Skylark: The Live Gate [DVD]
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- SKYLARK: THE LIVE GATE (DVD MOVIE)
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After their successful Pan China tour, the longest tour in the history of rock n roll including supporting shows for Nightwish and Dream Theater, Skylarks first and long-awaited Live DVD is finally a dream come true. Recorded in Phoenix, Arizona on May 5th 2008, the show is a pure live recording with no samples on stage or overdubs in studio in the true spirit of 70s and 80s rock n roll. Skylark fans will be captured by this genuine and powerful atmosphere listening to some of the band s classics plus a couple of surprises.
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Which I don't mind very much! We get less than an hour (no bonus features whatsoever) and many of the songs are performed in abbreviated versions. (For example, in Welcome (the first song played), we get only one pre-chorus/chorus before going into the solo, and in Belzebu, we don't get the dialogue at the end. We +do+, however, get about 18 seconds of the Rainbow in the Dark chorus (the only bit played from the Wings album, debut on Scarlet records in 2004) interspersed within the last A Rose In Her Hand chorus.) The song selection (or setlist, if you will) satisfies me, which I know as well as anybody is one of the biggest things to gripe about with a live performance. (Hey, Stratovarius didn't play Forever when I saw them at Nokia Theater in NYC last fall - you think I was happy about that?)
We have a nice balance between songs Kiara was the original vocalist of (3) and songs Fabio was the album performer of (5, 7 if you include two from Eddy's When Water Became Ice solo project). I was at first +very+ unsure about seeing classics I've come to know and love sung by Fabio (of particular note are Welcome and Creature of the Devil to me, for some reason), but by the time I got to the 4th song and have heard her already perform A Rose In Her Hand (if there could have been a single off of Fairytales, I'm sure this would be it) and I'm listening to her sing the Helloween cover, A Tale That Wasn't Right (from Keeper 1), I'm totally sold on her. which brings me to my next point...
If you're a 13-year old Skylark fan, don't watch this with your mom and dad. Kiara's dressed rather skimpily, but believe me - she can get away with it. You know the last chorus of The Triumph when, on the album, Fabio sings SUPER high? Kiara does AT LEAST as well, +and+ makes it look good. And the crowd +LOVES+ Kiara when she sings so high. I do too dammit. And when they show him, you can see Eddy having the time of his live on those keyboards. He even comes out to air-guitar with the rest of the band when there are no keyboards for him to play, such as early on in Twilight. In fact, I might be +less+ impressed with Kiara when she's singing the songs we've heard her sing on the albums, such as the super-radio-friendly Dying Inside from Divine Gates, Part III: The Last Gate. (Don't ask me why this DVD is called Divine Gates, Part IV: The Live Gate. It can't be more than a silly selling point. White Warrior's been dead for how long and we've doubled the length of the Divine Gates-titled part of the saga since then? oh please.) Oh, Dying Inside is also when Kiara sheds her (I believe) leather jacket. I wonder if flash photography was permitted at the gig? And I wonder how many patrons who ran out of batteries contemplated suicide? (Have I made my point that Kiara looks good?)
A couple things about Kiara singing the old songs don't make sense. White Warrior was not female. And Skylark doesn't play much where Princess of the Snow had a lot of lines. But I give Kiara and the band a ton of credit: One of Kiara's best moments on the DVD is when she's singing the last chorus of Creature of the Devil. How could she, a female, put so much emotion into her singing when what she's saying is, in effect, that the woman is a creature of the devil? Weird. Well, maybe Kiara just likes her wardrobe change to the white jacket, black shirt, and heels. (Give her a couple of more years and she could give Sharon del Adel a run for her money.)
The gig itself is played at a small venue (capacity probably around 1,800) and the stage is quite small. Pretty much only Brodo (bass) moves around a lot. And he's the only guy who's got the hair to hairmill. The only lights are dinky little colored things just above the drummer. No strobe lights here (sorry, Samael fans). The light show reminds me very much of a venue I've been to often - BB Kings Bar & Grill just outside of Times Square in NYC. Immortal actually released a DVD for a gig played there. But one of my biggest complaints is that Eddy's keyboards are not easily audible, particularly when the rest of the band is playing. This bothers me most at the very start of the DVD when they're playing the intro for Welcome, but I'm a big Skylark fan so I pretty much know when to listen for what. I also understand that Skylark didn't bring a permanent guitarist or drummer along to Phoenix (this was the band's first ever show in the US). It doesn't bother me too much. The band seems to quite well get away with having Eddy and Kiara being the focus of the DVD, utilizing the many cameras to get good shots of them. (Not many shots of the crowd though.)
All said and done, the band has a great time, the fans have a great time, and I have a great time watching this. This is +not+ one of those DVDs I'll watch one and then leave it to collect dust because I just can't be enough drawn to sit through it again. (My Queensryche and Transatlantic DVDs do.) It's one of the better concert DVDs I own, though obviously not as memorable as, say, Star One's Live On Earth. And Skylark is no Therion, so sure this is no Celebrators of Becoming (but then again, I can't see Skylark releasing 600 minutes worth of material). I see amazon.com doesn't list a tracklisting, so here it is:
1 - Welcome
2 - The Princess' Day
3 - A Rose In Her Hand (with chorus from Rainbow in the Dark)
4 - A Tale That Wasn't Right (Helloween cover)
5 - The Triumph
6 - Dying Inside
7 - Creature of the Devil
8 - Twilight
9 - The Final Countdown (Europe cover)
10 - Fear of the Moon / Belzebu
Anyone who loves a good Italian epic power metal band needs to see this DVD (cause how many do we have?) but anyone into power metal or live shows in general will get a kick out of this, as will anyone who likes a female vocalist in his/her metal (Within Temptation, Nightwish, The Gathering, Lullacry, Seraphim, Visions of Atlantis, After Forever, Epica, Arch Enemy, Oratory, Power Symphony, Benedictum, Fairyland, White Skull, etc.)
To anyone who loves this DVD, I'd advise you to check out the official website for record label Underground Symphony. Skylark released the first two Divine Gates albums (and more) on that label and, to the best of my knowledge, is the most successful band Underground Symphony ever had (like Rhapsody was to Limb Music Products, though Pagan's Mind is catching up - especially after that ProgPower USA show in 2008 and following North American tour with Stratovarius). Underground Symphony features loads of great Italian epic power metal bands in the vein of Domine, Desdemona, Highlord, Drakkar, Arwen, Derdian, Freternia, Heimdall, Holy Dragons, Secret Sphere, Seventh Seal, Versailles, Dark Moor, and Aquaria. (Not all of those are from Italy - I know that.) I also recommend you look into the Japanese melodic power metal scene, such as Azrael, Mastermind, Masterpiece, Liv Moon, Unlucky Morpheus, Dragon Guardian, Galneryus, Balflare, Ark Storm, Icarus'Cry, and Prophesia.
Great job, Skylark! Looking forward to hear David Defeis of Virgin Steele perform the guest duet with Kiara on Symbol of Freedom on the new album due out October 27th!