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Music DVD Review: RPWL – The RPWL Live Experience

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Today has been good. I have just spent nearly two hours in the majestic company of German progressive rock band RPWL courtesy of their DVD The RPWL Live Experience.

The concert, recorded live at the Wyspianski Theatre in Katowice, Poland in February this year, has been released with extra goodies in superb 5.1 sound. There is little doubt that the set acts as a perfect reminder as to why this band are placed towards the very top of the Euro Prog pile.

Here's the brief history. One evening, a few years ago, an unnamed band from Germany added a song called "Farewell" to their set. Up until then they had played Pink Floyd covers and many in the audience thought the band had somehow unearthered a previously unheard Floyd gem.

It was the first time they had played one of their own tracks and it proved to be the breakthrough moment that helped to develop their own identity. Asked by a label to come up with a band name they chose the initials of each of the, as it was then, members and RPWL was born.

Their first album God Has Failed arrived in 2000 and earned universally positive reviews. Two years later came Trying To Kiss The Sun, an album that saw the band develop more of its own personality, whilst again provoking enthusiastic admiration.

Further albums Stock, World Through My Eyes, the latter featuring Ray Wilson of Genesis fame, and 2005’s live album Start The Fire followed. The album 9, was quickly followed by The RPWL Experience and further underlined their now world-wide reputation.

The RPWL Live Experience DVD opens with the magnificent “Hole In The Sky” a track that will be very well known to their fan-base, and contains that well known 'Floydian' line, “set my controls for the heart of the sun."

The three remaining founder members, charismatic singer Yogi Lang, who commands centre stage with a Steve Hogarth-like presence, guitarist Kalle Wallner, and bass player Chris Postl quickly establish their musical pedigree on a track that is breathtakingly effective.

Kalle Wallner’s time playing David Gilmore breaks was clearly well spent and he fires off mouth-watering solo after mouth-watering solo as the faithful lap up every moment. Meanwhile the whole is masterfully underpinned by Markus Fehle’s keys and the drumming of Marc Tauriaux.

If you can get beyond such a breathtaking opening the next track “Breathe In, Breathe Out” will prove equally spine tingling. It’s the next in a line of what is effectively the best of RPWL’s catalogue. It is a set that simply radiates quality and is superbly shot combining various angles of the band whilst highlighting their intriguing video backdrop and impressive light show.

“3 Lights” follows gently and features the trademark harmonies, luscious keys, and the soothing melodic textures that make this band a delight to experience. Stunning musicianship further enhances a track that will raise the hair on the back of your neck. Yes, it is that good.

There are so many highlights, such as a driving “Start The Fire”, the ambitious and ever shifting “Sleep”, “Waiting For A Smile”, which has Yogi Lang on ever impressive form, and the powerful “Trying To Kiss The Sun”. As if that isn’t enough they also perform the superb pair “Wasted Land”, and “Roses”, before wrapping up with the crowd pleasing anthem “I Don’t Know”.

Syd Barrett’s “Opel” appears along with “Biding My Time” a very early Roger Waters track. Meanwhile, “This Is Not A Prog Song”, a barbed and tongue in cheek look at, yep, reviewers, had me nervously reading back over what I’ve written.

Extras on the DVD include an engaging interview with Yogi Lang and Kalle Wallner, a video clip of “Breathe In, Breathe Out”, and a brief section of tour footage taken from 2006, a photo gallery, desktop wallpaper, and more. There is also a DVD plus double CD set available to enjoy.

If you are into Marillion, Genesis, or Floyd, of course, then this is a must know band. 

Experience RPWL by visiting their official website or their MySpace page.

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About Jeff Perkins