Here we have the reissue, courtesy of earMUSIC, of an originally limited edition double live album release from Canadian prog rock stalwarts, Saga. I say "stalwarts", but they've now called it a day, following a 2017 farewell tour, and a final ever performance in February this year. Press blurb doesn't mention exactly how limited 'Live in Hamburg' originally was, although it's said to be "long sold out"... until now, that is. No doubt this will serve as a healthy dose of recent nostalgia for those who are still mourning their decision to cease activity as a band.
The recordings are from a show at Fabrik on 28th April 2015, and everything sounds rather magnificent. Saga's performance has been wonderfully captured, with a full-on resonant live sound that's simultaneously both polished and organic. And the mix is spot-on, too - all instruments are blended to perfection through perfectly balanced levels, yet all the nuances of the individual performances can also be clearly heard within the instrumentations. And frontman Michael Sadler's voice, while occasionally a little wobbly at the high-end, is rich with emotion, which adds an impressive layer of icing to an already tasty prog cake. Heavy-ish parts are mixed up with the mellow in Saga's compositional M.O., so this runs the prog gamut with engaging variance.
This sounds so good, it begs the question: were there any post-show overdubs at work? There's no mention of any, and if this is precisely as it went down in Hamburg three years ago then kudos to these now retired prog veterans. Talented folk were this Saga bunch. These live recordings sound so "alive" and vibrant that it's difficult to believe they'd been on the go for 38 years at the time of the Fabrik show. And fans who attended the gig were treated to not only some of the band's most well-known, widely lauded tracks, but, also, what I gather are a number of songs they rarely performed live. And now it's here with a wider release for everyone to relish. Impressive stuff from a band who will undoubtedly be much missed within the scene.
LIVE IN HAMBURG
Review by Mark Holmes
51:36 & 48:09
1st June 2018
DISC ONE: 1) (Goodbye) Once Upon the Time; 2) Someone Should; 3) You're Not Alone; 4) Hot To Cold; 5) On the Loose; 6) On My Way; 7) Scratching the Surface; 8) Time to Go; 9) I'll Be
DISC TWO: 1) Don't Be Late; 2) Wildest Dreams; 3) Ice Nine; 4) Humble Stance; 5) Careful Where You Step; 6) Wind Him Up; 7) The Flyer
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"These live recordings sound so "alive" and vibrant that it's difficult to believe they'd been on the go for 38 years at the time of the Fabrik show."