Album Review: RPWL – A Show Beyond Man And Time

RPWL - A Show Beyond Man And Time

Metal Mind [Release Date: 07.10.13]

My review of German neo-progressive RPWL’s 2012 album ‘Beyond Man And Time’ earned itself a five star review for its stellar musicianship and outstanding instrumental composition and songwriting – although I did cast doubt on their somewhat dubious philosophy.

Fast-forward then to February 2013 and the Theatr Slaski in Katowice, Poland and the band’s endeavour to take the album in front of a live audience – and not just selected highlights either but the whole work, note for note, track by track in the original running order.

This has been attempted many times before of course with varying degrees of success – shining examples being IQ’s ‘Subterranea’, Marillion with ‘Brave’ and, perhaps most obviously Pink Floyd with ‘The Wall’.

It not only requires musical ability of the highest order but also intense concentration and, it goes without saying, an album worthy of the enterprise.

Fortunately for all concerned, RPWL have not only ticked all the boxes but have pushed the envelope still further, creating a masterclass in how to do this right.

From the opening synth swells and narrative intro of ‘Transformed’ to the closing bars of pastoral guitar of ‘The Noon’ almost one and a half hours later, the band never miss a beat and have delivered a performance totally worthy of the outstanding material.

It is always hard just listening to a live performance as you feel you’re missing out on the visual experience (although a DVD of the show is available), and looking at the photographs on the cover and insert you feel this even more as it looks to have been quite an event.

Lead singer Yogi Lang looks to have out-Gabrielled Gabriel with a dizzying array of costume changes and it would appear to have had a stunning light show to boot.

The highlight of the whole show, as on the original album, is the seventeen minutes plus of ‘The Fisherman’ where middle eastern influences seamlessly interweave with modern instrumentation to produce a piece of music so diverse and so dazzling that even jaw-dropping seems somewhat inadequate.

And just when you think ‘surely they’re completely wrung out now’, as a little added bonus, the band are joined onstage by Ray Wilson (Genesis, Stiltskin) for the show closer ‘Roses’ taken from the band’s ‘World Through My Eyes’ album and it’s to the band’s credit that it sounds as fresh as if it were the opener. Incredible.

RPWL have been around for over a decade now producing some of the finest progressive rock to come out of Europe – and with the quality of progressive rock coming out of Europe at the moment that’s some accolade.

With this stunning double album surely their time in the spotlight has come.

*****

Review by Alan Jones


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