Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion «No Place Like Home – The Concert» 2017 (DVD + 2CD)
Октябрь 2, 2017
Елена Савицкая (164 статей)

Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion «No Place Like Home – The Concert» 2017 (DVD + 2CD)

A long-awaited live DVD of the Swedish band Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion (HFMC) is finally out. Hooray! The video was made on April 24th 2016, during the gig that was specially organized after the successful European tour in support of the band’s third album. The event took place at Reginateatern in Uppsala, Sweden, the native town of HFMC – and there is no place like home (or, as saying goes, even the walls help at home). Fans and friends both from Sweden and abroad coming made the evening even more special. HFMC tried to capture these feelings of unity and joy, as well as the power of their own live performance with this DVD. And they obviously succeeded!

HFMC is a great band to see live – I can judge by several their concerts I have been to (unfortunately, not this one.) Their performances always sparkle with overwhelming energy, spontaneity and drive, while their music conveniently combines conceptual progressive rock with hard and glam rock, and even some pop elements. The third Companions’ album simply called “HFMC” (2015) is an outstanding example of modern prog (see the review in Russian here). As for the setlist, besides “HFMC” material, which naturally became the core of the setlist, the band was playing songs from early albums and even some new compositions.

The DVD starts by showing panoramic views of Uppsala from above, and then we immediately find ourselves in the thick of things. The theatre was turned into something like a rock club with a standing parterre. The musicians enter the stage under the ticking metronome of «Seconds», the profound «Can’t Stop the Clock» and energetic «Everything Can Change» following straight after that – the beginning couldn’t be better. The new pastoral «Valleys and Fields», with solo guitarist Anton Lindsjö playing mandolin, while Hasse switches to acoustic guitar and voices endlessly echo each other, becomes a beautiful introduction to the merry «Song for July», a kind of pop hit from the first HFMC album. This is a nice counterweight to prog rock epics — the other example of this being joyful “Venice CA”.

The performance in general is just brilliant. Elaborated epic «Pages», where, during the acoustic fragment, the drummer Ola Strandberg (by the way, the composer of this song) comes to the forefront to provide additional guitars and vocals; beautiful and sad «Godsong» (from the 2nd album «PowerPlay»), more three songs from «HFMC» — touching «Genius», speedy, almost «metallic» «Something Worth Dying For» and dark psychedelic «In the Warmth of the Evening» — show different sides of band’s musicality. Dramatic Fröberg’s written «Life Will Kill You» from The Flower Kings repertoire (it makes sense to remind that Hasse Fröberg is famous as the soloist of the Swedish prog rock legend) is sounding much heavier than in the original version, and the pompous «Fallen Empire» (from the debut album «FuturePast») brings some kind of hard rock tension closer to the end of the show.

The musicians really enjoy performing despite the inner complexity of their songs. The old rock’n’roll tricks like dual guitar solos, heroic poses with a hand up high with a microphone, shaking hair, jumping and vigorous movement around the stage (as far as the guitar cord allows) work great here, and just look cool and funny. Even very familiar tracks left a lot of subtle moments for improvisation (Anton Linsjö and all), updated keyboard intros (Kjell Haraldson), interaction within the rhythm section (bassist Thomas Thomson and drummer Ola Strandberg). The perfect vocal polyphony (all the band members are singing) is admirable: how do they even do that live? And, of course, the sincerity and warmth, and at the right moments some «roughness» in Hasse’s voice are really impressive. The sound recording is very vivid and honest, it breathes and lives, you can hear all instrumental and vocal parts individually and in complex, and even a light guitar pedal’s noise and sound of tuning between the songs make the recording really authentic.

The way the band presents a fresh composition called «Chasing a Dream» is quite unusual. The concert footage is skilfully mixed with the studio shootings (the song was recorded later live in the studio). The song itself is very strong, with its soaring keyboard intro/conclusion and gloomy, almost prog metal heaviness of the main section. As Hasse said later, this version most likely wouldn’t go into the upcoming forth studio album, so the only way to listen to it is this DVD.

The video editor’s work is very thoughtful and dynamic. The leading part or some interesting detail is what is always emphasised, so you can correlate what you hear and what you see. The picture changes in accordance with the internal movement of music, there is no static and, of course, no boredom. It’s no surprise that editing took so long! Sometimes it seems like there is too much blue and red backlights, but you can see the faces, hands and the stage in general quite clearly.

Two more things need to be mentioned. Firstly, the language. The singer addresses the audience in his native Swedish, then talks to the guests from abroad in English, and then switches between Swedish and English. Perhaps, as the DVD was made for international distribution, it would be useful to do English subtitles for all the Swedish phrases (I’m sure it would be interesting for many people to know how the song about a cucumber transformed into philosophical «Pages», for example). Secondly, the show’s final. The Flower Kings’ hymn «Stardust We Are» (by Roine Stolt) smoothly turns into the final tune – HFMC’s «Someone Else’s Fault». But the band plays only the main theme and then the show comes to the end. It’s a pity that this remarkable and inspiring song wasn’t performed in its entriety.

If you want to learn a bit more about the band, there is a nice bonus – some footage from the dressing room, mini-interviews with fans and crew, the tour video… The digipack also contains two live audio CDs for those who think that two hours in front of the screen is too much (and don’t forget about 12-pages booklet!) But the DVD is definitely worth watching. It is an awesome demonstration of how a band can be alive and kicking even performing such complex multi-layered music. So, if you couldn’t be there (like me) – see the DVD and feel yourself somewhere near the stage. The DVD is recommended not only for HFMC/TFK/prog rock fans, but for all who are interested in good music and high-quality performance.

Elena Savitskaya (InRock music magazine)

9 из 10
Общее впечатление

progressive rock 9/10
Glassville Records


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Елена Савицкая

Елена Савицкая