Wednesday, 30 May 2012

LINK: Chris Thompson review

Chris Thompson once was the singer with Manfred Mann's Earth Band for many years; he was credited as being the best-known vocalist of this band, but he also had a solo career. In the past ten years as a solo artist, Chris was accompanied by The Mads Eriksen Band both for his live performances and his studio work. With this Norwegian band he recently released the CD/DVD Berlin Live & Live At The Colos-Saal. The band consist of Mads Eriksen(guitar), Frank Hovland (bass, backing vocals) and Gunnar Bjelland (keyboards). On the DVD the drums are played by Steinar Krokstad and on the Berlin CD by Szolt Meszaros.

Due to a major problem with the digital sound the concert at Colos-Saal was almost ruined. Only seven songs were good enough to be reproduced on DVD. First thought was to do the recording again some other time, but after all the effort it seems fair to release these seven songs in combination with a live concert recorded for CD in Berlin. Unfortunately we only get a glimpse of all the musical styles Chris Thompson participated in. However, this video captures the heart of one of his live concerts. Thompson is a pureblood entertainer; he easily connects to the audience and his enthusiasm on stage is inimitable. Some younger artists could learn a lot from this experienced performer.

Logically, the majority of the songs on both CD and DVD are connected to Manfred Mann's Earth Band, because all famous songs were sung by Thompson. We get excellent versions of some of the well-known songs in a progressive or classic rock style like Blinded By The Light, Questions, Martha's Madman, You Angel You, Redemption Songand true classics as For You, Mighty Quinn and Davy's On The Road Again. The absolute highlight during a Chris Thompson-concert is You're The Voice. Although Thompson wrote this song, the Australian singer John Farnham(ex- Little River Band) made it a world hit. Where the original songs were drenched in Manfred Mann's keyboards, the main focus on this double-CD/DVD is on the outstanding combination of the excellent vocals with a rough edge, and the incredible guitar play of Mads Eriksen, who plays perfectly, never missing a note. On Piece For The Wickedwe get the chance to hear him play a solo piece on the acoustic guitar. He truly is a stunning guitarist, who recorded a number of partly instrumental solo albums as well as a great one together with Thompson.

Although the guitar play is emphasized on this album that doesn't mean that no keyboards can be heard. Gunnar Bjelland is very capable to reproduce all of Mann's sounds and he adds something of his own to the music as well. Drums and bass are kept very basic, but effective with an occasional short bass or drum fill. I've seen several concerts of this line-up, and I think this album represents how a Chris Thompson-concert really is: honest, a hard working band on stage and what stands out most is the pleasure these musicians have in doing what they like the best: playing great music.

**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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