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Glass Hammer - Live At NEARfest

Glass Hammer - Live At NEARfestLadies and gentlemen!  What a year 2004 is turning out to be for Glass Hammer fans.  A new studio album (Shadowlands), the Lex Live DVD and now a new live album recorded at NEARfest 2003.

Glass Hammer's works tend to be on a grand scale, complex arrangements packed with memorable themes and melodies, the brainchild of Steve Babb and Fred Schendel.  Live performances by Glass Hammer are rare and with this in mind, the prog maestros stretch their art in the studio where the only limits of possibility are their imagination and skills as composers.  When the result is something like Lex Rex, it is only a matter of time before enthusiastic dreamers like me start pleading for the band to take the album on the road.  Sealing their fate with a comment in an interview that unless they were asked to perform at NEARfest they probably wont play live again, an invitation followed which they could hardly refuse even if it did mean staging a performance of one of their most complex works.

Major reorganisation ensued, a new drummer acquired (Matt Mendians) freeing up Walter Moore (electric guitar, keyboards, vocals), Eric Parker (acoustic guitar, bass) and Flo Paris joining Bethany Warren and Susie Bogdanowicz on vocal duty.  Add a 16 strong choir to the equation and many hours of rehearsal and Glass Hammer are ready to (prog) rock.

The recording is clear as a bell and the music astounding, the bulk of which is Lex Rex with a couple of tracks off Chronometree and one off Perelandra.  Special guest, Rich Williams from Kansas joins the entourage for a rendition of the Kansas track Portrait (He Knew).

I could exhaust my library of superlatives as far as Glass Hammer and especially Lex Rex is concerned, the studio album being one of those essential in any prog collection.  Live albums and performances can be hit or miss as we all know but Live At NEARfest is one of the best. If you have never heard the music of Glass Hammer before, I have no hesitation in recommending this live album as a good starting point, much in the same way I would recommend Camel's A Live Record.  Fans of Glass Hammer will need no persuasion.

Jem Jedrzejewski

Glass Hammer



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