Chris Thompson – Berlin Live & Live At The Colos-Saal
Vocalist Chris Thompson carved out a name for himself as the voice for Manfred Mann's Earth Band beginning in the mid 70's. His dynamic range and soaring vocals on tracks like "Blinded By The Light", "Davy's On The Road Again" and "Mighty Quinn" helped catapult the Earth Band to worldwide recognition. Since departing the band for good in the late 90's, Thompson has concentrated on his solo career that first began in the 70's with his band Night.
Backed by an all-star Norwegian band that includes guitar wizard Mads Eriksen, his most recent offering is a stellar double CD and single DVD set entitled Berlin Live & Live At The Colos-Saal that is culled from a couple of German live shows last year. Unfortunately technical snafu's with the audio and video rendered much of the DVD material unusable, but Thompson plowed ahead undeterred, defied conventional wisdom and opted to issue all the salvageable material from the concert. What he did manage to save looks and sounds great as Chris and his band are firing on all cylinders by tearing through seven tracks from his solo career, as well as a couple of Manfred classics. It's a case of quality winning out over quantity here as the viewer gets a tease of what could have been had the show managed to have gone off without a hitch. To round out the DVD , there are some nice bonus features tacked on at the end that includes interviews with each band member, as well as some fan shot footage, which helps to fill in the some of the missing pieces.
The CD portion of the package, a live out to radio concert, recorded six months later, gives the listener a pretty good idea of what Thompson and his band delivers on a nightly basis. From the opening notes of Dylan's "Father of Day", first covered back in '72 on the Earth Band's Solar Fire album, through to the fan favorite "Questions" off of The Roaring Silence, everything in between is a varied mix of Thompson's back catalogue of work ("Hot Summer Nights", "If You Remember Me" etc...) coupled with heaping amounts of Earth Band material. Chris has never sounded better as he leads the troops through cracking renditions of Earth Band classics, "Spirits In The Night", "Blinded By The Light", "Don't Kill It Carol" and "Runner".
All in all this is a superb package that diehard fans of Chris and the Earth Band are definitely going to want to add to their collections. But more importantly, these concerts stand as a true testament to the unlimited talents and unyielding spirit of one of classic rock's most unique and original sounding voices.
By Ryan Sparks
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