|Review: Kamelot - One Cold Winter's Night|
|One Cold Winter's Night|
Year released: 2006
Review online: May 26, 2008
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
for:One Cold Winter's Night
Rated 4.72/5 (94.44%) (18 Votes)
This was Kamelot's first (and so far only) DVD release, recorded live at their show in Oslo on Feb 11th, 2006. Well into their worldwide tour for The Black Halo, this represents Kamelot at the very top of their game. Recorded in the superlative Rockefeller Music Hall with a sold-out crowd and produced by veteran Patric Ullaeus (who has worked with pretty much everyone you can imagine), One Cold Winter's Night is pretty much the ultimate Kamelot show that could be captured on video.
The meat of this is the concert, which was recorded in one night — one of the coldest on record — to a completely devoted crowd who are obviously way into the band and so excited to be there some of them look like they might pass out. Opening up with the title song, Kamelot blaze furiously and confidently through a set filled with some of their best material. I am such a Kamelot fan I could quibble the setlist all day (how I wish "Descent Of The Archangel" was here). But you can't say the band hasn't tried to please everyone with some of their best-known, but also best songs.
The center of the Kamelot universe onstage is undoubtedly Roy Khan, who easily dominates the proceedings with his enormous charisma and sometimes bizarre stage movements. The thing that floors me is just how good he sounds live. He starts off good, but about four songs in — right around "Center Of The Universe" — he gets really, really good and never stops. That he can pull off a delicate, beautiful song like "Abandoned" in a live setting points out just how skilled and talented he is.
The rest of the band carries off their parts with equal ability, if not the same flair. Though it must be admitted bassist Glenn Barry — playing without a pick on a five-stringer — exudes enormous confidence and ease. Casey Grillo plays his ass off, and new keyboardist Oliver Palotai handles his spot with as much verve as a key player can get away with.
The real revelation for me watching this was Tom Youngblood. I've always known he was a good player, but the way he refuses to take center stage has always led everyone to underestimate his abilities. Watching him play live though...wow. Not since Jim Matheos have I seen a player who makes what he does look so easy. And he spikes the riffs and leads with little taps, slides, and pinch-harmonic flourishes that sometimes made my jaw drop — not necessarily from the ability to do it, but with the casualness with which he pulls it all off.
The band is backed up by a full cast of guests, including Mari Youngblood in several spots singing backup just as she did on the album. Snowy Shaw (!) pops up during "March Of Mephisto" as the Devil himself. (Fuck I had no idea he was so huge). And as an added bonus the divine Simone Simons of opening act Epica comes on stage for "The Haunting" showing off her flawless vocals and charismatic stage presence.
The sound, for a live album, is stellar, with marvelous clarity and just enough 'roughness' to make it plain this is live. The light show is spot-on, and while light shows are hardly new, a well-done light show is still a pleasure. Anyone who's seen a good one live can attest how it can make a great band's performance almost overwhelming. The camera work is innovative and fluid without being distracting. Ullaeus cuts between closeup cameras on all the band members and a really great flyover cam on a computer-controlled arm that zooms in and out and spins around. The movements are selected to highlight the songs, and judicious use of blackouts helps conceal where they cut the footage. There is a bare minimum of the 'grainy black and white' which seems to be a standard for this kind of vid. As a bonus, they are not shy about focusing on Youngblood's fingers during riffs or leads, and so you tablature nuts should love it.
The second disc is a collection of interviews, making-of bits, photo galleries, and several videos, including two versions of "March Of Mephisto", one of which was cut for TV due to Shagrath drooling too much fake blood. Thomas Youngblood gives a short tour of his house letting us see guitars literally everywhere. The second disc has nothing essential, but it is cool.
As concert films go, this is really first-rate, and I can't think of anything else they could have done to make it better. For Kamelot fans, this is the next best thing to being there. Even non-fans will be impressed with the flat-out performance the band gives here. Highly Recommended.
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Interview with Khan (vocals) on July 30, 2007 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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