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(217:08 DVD, Metal Mind Records)
TRACK LIST: Set 1: 1. Pielgrzym 11:27 2. Odlot 15:01 3. Freedom with Us 6:47 4. 3rd Reanimation 5:32 5. Going Away 10:04 6. Zywiec Mountain Melody 7:20 7. Memento z Banalnym Tryptykiem 11:03 8. Piesn Stoj?cego w Bramie 4:07 9. Plonace Mysli 7:34 10. Rainbow Man 9:42 11. Drums 8:16 12. Walking Around the Stormy Bay 7:34 13. The Rock 6:53 14. Sunny Day 6:57 15. Z Ktorych Krwi Krew Moja 9:10 LINEUP: Jozef Skrzek – keyboards; bass; vocals Anthimos Apostolis – guitar; drums Gabor Nemeth - drums Set 2: 1. Memento z Banalnym Tryptykiem 8:28 2. New Century 8:17 3. Odlot 9:46 4. Rainbow Man 6:01 5. Ca?kiem Spokojne Zmeczenie 5:23 6. Drums-battle 1:50 7. Walking Around the Stormy Bay 4:18 LINEUP: Jozef Skrzek – keyboards; bass; vocals Anthimos Apostolis – guitar; drums Slawomir Piwowar - guitar Irek Glyk - drums
Prolusion. With a history going back to the early 70's, Polish band SBB is a highly experienced outfit, and is considered to be a living legend in Eastern Europe. Throughout the years SBB has gained popularity worldwide and has been in demand after the band reformed following an extended hiatus in the 80's and early 90's. The "Four Decades" DVD documents what many see as a change in musical direction for the band following the release of the 2007 album "The Rock". The major part of the DVD consists of the last concert from the tour SBB had supporting the album, and for comparison as well as to satisfy popular demand a shorter concert made with the band’s prior lineup in 2006 has been included. Bonus material consists of interviews with the members of the current lineup, as well as a brief biography, discography information and a photo gallery.
Analysis. The main emphasis here is on the concert from November 19th 2007, the last of the concerts supporting the 2007 release "The Rock". As SBB has an extensive history and a vast repertoire to choose from, they have decided to focus more on prior material than current tunes, satisfying fans' expectations obviously being important when making that choice. Thus, only 4 out of the 15 tunes performed are from their latest album. And although 15 tunes may be seen by some as a rather small selection and a brief concert, the show in fact lasts for more than 2 hours. It is easy to see that SBB is a high profile act when watching the footage from this concert. They play in a good sized theater for starters, but they also have quite a few effects adding interest to their stage show. First and foremost there's a rather impressive lighting setup, tastefully utilized throughout the concert. The lights are not overly used nor are they utilized to such an extent that the concert turns into more of a light show with music, instead they are deployed carefully as effects to add variation and interest to what is a long concert that needs something extra due to length itself rather than for any other reason. The second effect used is a large video display at the back end of the stage, although not too often in the focus of the filming here we do get a good impression of how this is utilized. And as for the concert and the footage overall, high class and quality are keywords here. The sound recording and the movie footage are both as good as can be expected from an act that doesn't sell millions of copies of each CD; the sound recordings are clear and distinct, the movie footage containing shots from several cameras, giving us shots from overhead, stage shots, close-ups of parts of the stage as well as detailed footage of what each member of the band does; basically portraying most aspects of the concert as a whole as well as the individual performances in a good manner. The production of the DVD, the selection of footage and how it has been put together reflects the bands performance here; high quality and high class, and with a slightly relaxed feel to it (relaxed in the meaning of everything being controlled and unhurried). Nothing is wasted here, each shot has a purpose; there are no unneeded thrills and frills. And the same can be said about the performance of the musicians here, the movements and actions are economical; energy is conserved and used when needed. Personally I was impressed by all members here, but drummer Gabor Nemeth in particular made a particular impression, seemingly relaxed and at ease even when performing what appeared to be rather complex and taxing segments. And I do believe this is the first time I've seen a drummer looking fit and fresh after a 2 hour performance. Appearances are probably deceiving here; but he looked like he could easily have played for several more hours without any problems whatsoever. The shorter concert from 2006 is a bit of a contrast in many ways. In the footage from the 2007 concert we see a band that on many tracks heavily rely on the keyboard skills of Jozef Skrzek, where he has an extensive setup of keyboards and doesn't get to concentrate on his bass guitar too often. The 2006 concert is different in that regard, with less keyboards on stage, and more time on the bass guitar for Skrzek. The sound is different, too, with another drummer and two guitar players rather than one, so that the music comes across as more jazz-influenced. The drummer influences this to some extent, and the guitarists underline this. Less prominent use of keyboards also adds to this impression. While SBB anno 2007 comes across as a band making music in a style close to Pink Floyd, with some similarities to Deep Purple at times, too, SBB anno 2006 is closer to fusion in style and manner and has less of a heavy prog and space rock feel to the music. The footage from 2006 isn't of the same quality as the recordings from 2007 either. The sound recording is of good quality, but the movie footage is of distinctly lower quality. Not as many or as interesting camera angles, the image quality isn't as good, and the various shots aren't as well put together. The quality is adequate overall, but compared to the 2007 footage it is a few steps down on the quality ladder. The performance is good though, which is the most essential aspect here. And as the amount of footage is nowhere near as long lasting as the 2007 footage, lasting for about 45 minutes, this isn't a major issue as I see it.
Conclusion. Fans of SBB better find empty their wallets and get this DVD. Any fan of them that likes watching concert DVDs should find this release to be of interest. Even the ones who may dislike the slight change in style the band made in 2007 will discover content of interest to them, and the interviews with the band members, each lasting for about 15 minutes, should be interesting for all fans of the group. As the band performs tunes from all periods of their career this is also a good purchase for people curious about the band, both due to the variety of tunes but also due to the fact that different aspects of the band are presented in the footage from two different concerts. Admirers of the musicians in SBB will also get their needs catered to in the footage here, and fans of heavy prog with space rock sentiments might also want to check this release out due to the style in general and the quality of the performance in particular.
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