For those of you that don't know, Saga are a Canadian band (although vocalist Michael Sadler was actually born in Wales) who formed back in 1977, hence this release to acknowledge their 40th anniversary. As the title suggests, this live set was recorded at the Rock of Ages festival in Seebronn, Germany, one of the band's biggest markets (along with Puerto Rico). As one can imagine, having been a going concern for 40 years, the band's lineup has seen more than a few changes, with brothers Jim (bass/keyboards) and Ian (guitar) Crichton the only members who've been present throughout the Sagaís life. The other musicians on this release are the aforementioned vocalist Sadler, Jim Gilmour (keyboards) and drummer Mike Thorne.
And so, onto the music. This 2CD set (also available on double LP, DVD, blu-ray and digital download) spans some 90 minutes and, as may reasonably be expected for a festival appearance, is basically a live version of a greatest hits compilation. For those of you familiar with Saga's output, this includes classics such as 'Take a Chance', 'On the Loose', 'Scratching the Surface' and 'You're Not Alone'. For those of you that have never heard the band, probably the best comparison is Asia (indeed, Ian Crichton has recorded sessions with the prog supergroup) with their sound of rock with a commercial edge and keyboards always playing a prominent role.
As has been previously mentioned, Saga are 'big' in Germany and itís clear that the enthusiastic audience are enjoying the performance, and this is probably aided by the commendable efforts of the band to speak German, which they do very well. As the gig was recorded in the open air, the sound has that 'festival' feel to it, in that it comes across a bit bottom heavy, although, given that the band's studio releases have a multi-layered and complex approach, they do a fairly good job in getting their 'natural' sound across.
The band have announced that they are to go their separate ways, save for one last gig on this year's Cruise To The Edge. If this is indeed the case, then this live set is a fitting epitaph to a career that, although having had its ups and downs, has seen some fine music released over the last 40 years.
SO GOOD SO FAR - LIVE AT ROCK OF AGES
Review by Dave Uphill
28th Sept 2018
DISC ONE: 1) Take a Chance; 2) On the Loose; 3) Help Me Out; 4) Keep in Reel; 5) Time's Up; 6) Will It Be You? (Chapter Four); 7) Careful Where You Step; 8) Frog Bite (Drum Solo); 9) What's It Gonna Be
DISC TWO: 1) Someone Should; 2) Humble Stance; 3) Scratching the Surface; 4) You're Not Alone; 5) Don't Be Late; 6) The Flyer; 7) Wind Him Up
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...this live set is a fitting epitaph to a career that, although having had its ups and downs, has seen some fine music released over the last 40 years."