Soto, Jeff Scott - 2003 Live At The Gods 2002 (CD + DVD)

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ARTIST: Soto, Jeff Scott
ALBUM: Live At The Gods 2002 (CD + DVD)
LABEL: Frontiers
SERIAL: FRCD 149
YEAR: 2003

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: Jeff Scott Soto - vocals * Alex Papa - drums * Howie Simon - guitars * Gary Schutt - bass * Pontus Norgren - guest guitarist on 'Again 2 B Found'

TRACK LISTING: 2 Your Heart * 02 Let Me Entertain You * 03 Break Your Chains * 04 How Long * 05 Love Parade * 06 Drum Solo * 07 Stand Up * 08 Eyes Of Love * 09 Warrior * 10 Again 2 B Found * 11 I'll Be Waiting * 12 Acoustic Jam (Howie and Gary) * 13 Acoustic Medley * 14 Yngwie Medley * 15 Good Love (studio bonus)

Background

I'd already heard lots of great reports about Jeff's set at The Gods 2002 and the more good reports I heard, the more I was kicking myself for not being there. This release comes as a consolation prize for me, and for so many others who didn't get to witness the performance first-hand.

An artist of Jeff's standing could've easily used this set to showcase lots of new material (from his then current N&T/Frontiers release 'Prism'), but instead, he turns the occasion into a huge celebration of his back-catalogue and the audience are treated to a selection of tunes from his career, some even dating back to his days with Yngwie Malmsteen.

The Songs

As the set kicks in with a rousing rendition of Queen's 'Let Me Entertain You' (a version of which appeared on Talisman's 'Life'), given the setting, it's no longer so much a song, more a statement of intent. Talisman's 'Break Your Chains' and 'I'll Be Waiting' sound great as ever.

The new stuff, although slightly more understated, sits nicely with the old classics, with a confidence which may make them attain classic status eventually. If there's a weak link anywhere in the chosen material, I'd probably pick the aforementioned Yngwie medley, but then that's probably because I'm not much of a fan.

The only other thing which could be seen as a slight weakness, would be Jeff's attempt to squeeze too much material in a relatively short space of time, there are some great songs which don't quite get the full attention they deserve, having been squeezed into an acoustic medley.

If I'd been at the show in person, I think I'd have liked to have heard more than a minute's worth of 'Just Between Us'. Reviewing live albums is very difficult. Ninety percent of people likely to buy this (or any other live album) will already be more than familiar with the material in it's studio form.

Therefore, it's pointless basing my review around how well the material is written and arranged, you'll know that already. What you do need to know, is how on-form the band are, especially considering their nerves must have been on edge knowing they were being captured for posterity on DVD and CD.

To my ears, they sound great, Ken Tamplin stalwart Howie Simon rips through all the necessary guitar parts with ease and the rest of the band are on top of their game. A guest spot from Great King Rat/Jekyll & Hyde man Pontus Norgren turns up the heat by a couple of notches also.

I've no idea whether the CD has much in the way of post-production (overdubs and stuff), and I hope it was kept to a minimum, if any at all, but regardless, it's great listening.

In Summary

For those who want that little bit extra, the CD release has a new studio track 'Good Love' thrown in. It's typical of the rock-soul hybrid JSS performs well, but beyond that, there's little else to say, it sounds like a left-over (albeit a very good leftover).

Most importantly, this CD makes a great memento for anyone who was lucky enough to be present on the day. Geographically challenged die-hard fans will enjoy it greatly too. Everyone else would be better advised to check out Jeff's other recent releases instead, his solo album, 'Prism' and Talisman's 'Cats & Dogs'.


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