Whatever I may have first thought, the classic, symphonic sound of progressive rock is not dead. While I may not always appreciate the paradox by which many bands have regressing back in time in order to be ‘progressive’, taken on a purely musical level out of context, it’s impossible not to see some great bands crawling out of the woodwork. MOON SAFARI is a band many proggers will have at least heard of. Their second album ‘[Blomljud]‘ is still hailed as one of the best prog albums of the new millennium, and for good reason. With influence of GENESIS and THE FLOWER KINGS readily evident, MOON SAFARI make some damned fine music within their particular brand of prog, and it’s showcased perfectly in ‘The Gettysburg Address’. While I’m rarely enthusiastic about live albums (and especially double- disc live albums at that!) MOON SAFARI’s recording of their 2011 ROSFest headline is about as close a true concert experience as one can get, without actually being in the theater that night and seeing it live.
At an hour and a half long, MOON SAFARI pull no punches with ‘The Gettysburg Address’. Normally, I would condemn a live album for being this length; after all, why make something so long that listeners may need to schedule bathroom breaks in between? In the case of MOON SAFARI, it works, not only because of the music’s quality, but because it is an earnest attempt to recreate a ‘concert experience’. Many live albums tend to be a ‘best of’ performance collection from a tour, but the recording here is a single take, appropriately beginning with the ROSFest host mildly introducing the band, and complete with some affable banter in between tracks. Even the band being heckled at one point in the performance simply adds to the feeling of ‘being there’, and that’s not something many live albums are able to pull off.
Speaking of the actual music that goes along with the album, MOON SAFARI’s sound is at times a little too cheery and upbeat for my own taste, but there’s never a moment where the musicianship and orchestration dips in quality. Especially considering that this is a single take without pause, the sheer precision and tightness of the performance is nothing short of amazing. The opening instrumental ‘Moonwalk’ and epic final ‘The Other Side of the Sky’ might be my favourite parts of the show. Of course, none of this material is ‘unique’ to ‘The Gettysburg Address’, but this live recording certainly compliments the existing compositions. The recording sound is so pristine that one might be fooled into thinking it’s just a very organic-sounding studio recording. That’s the magic of ‘The Gettysburg Address’; it manages to capture the experience of a live setting, without the setbacks usually suffered by live albums. My only potential gripe is that the performance essentially reprises what may already be heard on a studio release, but the power of everything is emphasized here. Without a doubt, MOON SAFARI and ‘The Gettysburg Address’ is one of the most impressive life albums I’ve ever heard.
1. Moonwalk (11:39)
2. Lover’s End Pt. 1 (6:56)
3. A Kid Called Panic (14:34)
4. Yasgur’s Farm (8:45)
5. The World’s Best Dreamers (6:30)
Total Time 48:14
1. Dance Across the Ocean (8:01)
2. Heartland (6:05)
3. New York City Summergirl (4:57)
4. Other Half of the Sky (31:00)
* Pontus Ǻkesson – Electric Guitar and Vocals
* Sebastian Ǻkesson – Organ, Mellotron, Percussion and Vocals
* Simon Ǻkesson – Lead Synthesizers, Grand Piano, Organ, Mellotron and Vocals
* Tobias Lundgren – Drums, Percussion and Vocals
* Petter Sandström – Acoustic Guitar and Vocals
* Johan Westerlund – Bass Guitar and Vocals