Tag Archives: progressive pop

“NYC: Live In NYC” by Blackfield

Artist: Blackfield
Title: “NYC (Blackfield Live In NYC)”
Label: Kscope Records
Release Date: 9/15/2009
Genre: Melodic Progressive Pop
Rating: 4.5/5

The show that this release originally hails from happened on a snowy night in NYC back in early 2007 and it was a fantastic night that I am happy to be able to tell people that I attended as well. The music of the key players Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen were expanded upon by the incredible band that was backing them up and while those in the crowd knew full well that the set was being recorded for future use, the anticipation was extremely high for this to be released sooner rather than later. Lucky for all of the bands fans the official DVD release of the show came out later in the year and was a great way for all who attended to have a special memento and for those who did not to be reminded about what they missed again and again. Interestingly enough, we never saw a CD version of the concert until the special edition that we are discussing in this article and all I can say is “it’s about time”. The idea that no one was able to load this release onto their music players for all this time must seem rather absurd when one takes into account about all the myriads concert films that come out and have the audio version follow it by a month or two later while the Blackfield fanatics were forced to wait and wait, until now. I had to say that the audio CD sounds great and when played at the proper volume sounds like the band is right there in the room with you and I must admit that I enjoyed being able to have this music travel around with me on my music player and in the car stereo. The DVD that comes with the release is the same one that came out a couple of years ago and if you don’t already own this then you no longer have an excuse about waiting and must add this to your music purchasing list. There is a booklet inside that presents some candid images of the band as well as some professionally staged shots and a handful of photos from the performance itself. All in all, a very satisfying release that I was happy/impressed/relieved to find being given a special edition treatment. Below is our original review of the DVD release.
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“NYC (Blackfield Live In NYC)” [DVD] by Blackfield

Artist: Blackfield
Title: “NYC (Blackfield Live In NYC)”
Label: Snapper UK
Release Date: 11/6/2007
Genre: Melodic Progressive Pop
Rating: 4.5/5

If you weren’t already aware of this – the band Blackfield is the result of the creative energies from Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson and Israeli Alt-Rock star Aviv Geffen who joined forces to create material back around the year 2000. Their original plan was to do a simple EP but it ended up resulting in a full release in 2004 that even led to a follow up in 2007. The music that’s to be found on “Blackfield” and “Blackfield II” make these albums truly worthy additions to any fine CD collection. The reason for this is based on the group sounding entirely different from that of its members’ primary groups. With Blackfield you don’t merely get a side project that holds a ton of reference to that of Porcupine Tree and the work that Aviv does and instead the listener finds a breath of fresh air in the musical sense. While it’s Melodic Pop to some degree of the word it also has that Progressive and Alternative element to it and as result offers up some truly inspirational and thought provoking lyrical content. The bottom line is that it’s really enjoyable stuff and this DVD film “Blackfield Live in NYC” captures the group on a stormy winter’s night at the Bowery Ballroom. This is an intimate venue on the Lower East Side that holds just over 500 people and was truly the perfect room for this show to be filmed at. Having attended the performance I can confirm that the snow outside made travel difficult for everyone, it didn’t stop anyone and here we were at a performance that was sold out for many weeks in advance.
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Blackfield @ Bowery Ballroom (3/16/2007)

I had only heard of Blackfield shortly before their recent CD “Blackfield II” and was intrigued about the project that featured Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson and Israeli Alternatiive superstar Aviv Geffen. New York City had been hit by a terrible snowstorm that day but that didn’t stop the crowd from assembling at the Bowery Ballroom with my associate Peter Parrella who would offer up his thoughts on the night. I tried my best to capture some moments in photos and you can see more by clicking their logo below. It will bring you to the main PiercingMetal.com site where the article resides. If it makes you sad for not attending, don’t sorry as the group was filming a DVD of the show that night for all to eventually enjoy.

Logo - Blackfield

Artist: Blackfield
Venue: The Bowery Ballroom (New York, NY)
Opener: Jordan Rudess
Date: 3/16/2007
Label: Atlantic Records

Blackfield’s performance at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom on March 16, 2007 was a crowd pleaser on so many levels that it’s hard to enumerate. Those who braved the sting of a late season sleet storm to hear this sold out show were treated not only to a tight, majestic performance by the headliners but also to a marvelous solo set by current Dream Theater and former Dregs keyboardist Jordan Rudess.

To begin the evening Rudess quietly took center stage, sat at his massive master keyboard (reportedly driving his piano sounds from “Ivory” software via his MacBook Pro), and proceeded to roll out streams of arpeggios from which emerged the melodic hallmarks of some of the most revered progressive bands of the previous few decades. His beautifully crafted suites and re-imaginings of classic King Crimson, Yes and Genesis tunes enthralled the audience peppered with Dream Theater fans. The crowd responded with gasps of appreciative glee as they recognized bits of “Court of the Crimson King”, “Carpet Crawlers”, “Supper’s Ready” or “And You and I”, that rose out of the waves of ornate piano work Rudess laid down. After the second piece he half jokingly asked “Do you recognize any of this/If so, feel free to sing along”, but few ventured to break the magic of the performance by vocalizing.
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“Blackfield II” by Blackfield

Artist: Blackfield
Title: “Blackfield II”
Label: Atlantic Records
Release Date: 3/6/2007
Genre: Progressive Rock
Rating: 4/5

This second collaboration between Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson and Israeli alternative singer/songwriter Aviv Geffen is a solid follow up to their exceptional 2004, eponymously titled, debut album. In addition to Wilson and Geffen, the new recordings feature the talents of Tomer Z on drums, Seffy Efrati on Bass, and Daniel Salomon, a star in his own right in Israel, on piano.

Whereas collaborative efforts by established artists have the potential to turn into disjointed arm-wrestling tournaments, Blackfield II has the feel of a united band effort. Aviv and Steven’s musical sensibilities, as well as their voices, meld together like two brothers who have shared a record collection, albeit from worlds away. In fact, to view this as a “side project” for either would be unfairly dismissive of how powerful and beautiful these songs/recordings are.
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“Gold” by Asia

Artist: Asia
Title: “Gold”
Label: Universal Music
Release Date: 6/14/2005
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 4/5

The idea of taking members of Yes, ELP and The Buggles might strike you as potentially bringing about the greatest Progressive Rock outfit of all time but the end result would be a far different project and the media splash that would surround it become nothing less than historic. That was pretty much the end result when Carl Palmer, Steve Howe, John Wetton and Geoff Downes formed this group with the assistance of Brian Lane (manager of Yes). The players and their legendary bands all had the support of the die hard Progressive fans but the music of Asia was so far from Prog and instead more a borderline commercial Rock outfit. In 1982 being “commercial” was not necessarily a bad thing and just guaranteed the group a more consistent level of radio play. At the time Rock radio ruled the airwaves and you would continually hear ELP, Yes and Triumph along with Zeppelin, Who and Stones. Disco had moved from a full movement to a scattering of supporters and Rock music was again on the rise. Soon “Hair Metal” and “Thrash Metal” would rise but now we find ourselves in ’82 (sorry I could not resist). To call the self-titled debut of Asia a blockbuster would be an understatement and the first single from the album “Heat Of The Moment” would be a chart-topping phenomena. The main reason for this occurrence would be the wide spread appeal that their music offered to the listener. Instead of long-winded displays of musical precision there were tasty hooks and catchy lyrics that just brought a wider audience into the bands camp. The other interesting thing would be the sizable female audience that this band won over for at the time Progressive styling was hardly something that the gender found much interest in. No less than half of the first album made it to regular rotation on stations and the album itself sold millions of copies giving the members the highest chart positions as Asia than they ever received in their other bands.
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