Frontiers Records [Release date 07.08.20]
In 2017, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Blue Oyster Cult’s debut release, a string of dates across Europe – festivals, stand alone headline gigs – was put in place, culminating in this concert at the Stone Free Festival, London. It’s the band’s third live album to be released in 2020, after a 20 year wait since 2002′s “Long Days Night”.
The set has a clutch of the “hits” clamped on at the back end of course – not all fans have been tuned in since 1972 – though in fairness, the vast bulk of their following’s been with them since the album’s exposure on the fledgling MTV channel, in the year of release.
As you would expect nowadays, the gig was recorded and videotaped in 4K UHD. Some high tech recording’s been done on the Audio too. It’s clearly cutting edge stuff. No point in doing one without the other.
To anyone who claims the band are impervious to the evolution of rock culture, this album is the counter argument. The debut, the beginning of the band’s 3 album, black & white years, was jam packed with songs that are tough to decipher.
That inherent sense of mystery was emphasised by the murky, layered, psychedelic arrangements, which aren’t so prevalent tonight. The band went in a heavier direction on subsequent albums, and are now inclined to shift tempo when performing live, maintaining the music’s menacing momentum through the rock solid rhythm section and cranked up guitars.
Still, a great song is a great song, no matter. Fraught with regret, an elongated ‘Then Came The Last Days Of May’. Eric Bloom’s scorched voice allows for the song to sound as bruised and battered as a 45 year old rock song should, with Buck Darma’s solo axework, very detailed, very musical, very emotional, stretching the song to a satisfying ten and a half minutes. The Black Sabbath tribute, ‘Cities On Flame’ still carries an unqenchable, guitar fuelled torch for the liberating, anarchic effect of rock’n'roll, and of course ‘Godzilla’ and ‘…The Reaper’ are here too.
The DVD carrries with it ‘behind the scenes’ bonus video footage. Alway interesting, especially if you’re a card carrying fan. This one is no different. ****
Review by Brian McGowan
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