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Leap Day - Live At The Northern Prog Festival CD (album) cover


Leap Day



3.46 | 7 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Forming in 2008, hailing from the Netherlands and with connections to Trion and Flamborough Head, Neo prog band Leap Day have been putting out a steady stream of solid studio albums every few years, really stepping up with their two most recent efforts `From the Days of Deucalion: Chapter One' and `Two' that aimed big by adapting texts based on Immanuel Velikovsky's baffling alternative-history book `Worlds in Collision' from the Fifties. For the unconverted, Leap Day sounds like a mix of Pink Floyd, early Pendragon, Australian groups Unitopia and the United Progressive Fraternity, and perhaps a more obviously prog-focused Jadis, where strong tunes are always the priority over an abundance of instrumental trickery. So while fans wait for a third volume of the `Deucalion' series, the band have issued a cool little stop-gap disc entitled `Live at the Northern Prog Festival', taken from their November 2015 gig, and despite a few issues addressed later, it's a charming, professional and accomplished performance that is very easy to enjoy.

For the concert, the group offer a selection of seven pieces taken from all of their four studio works, and while all the musicians give superb and energetic performances, much prominence is given to Eddie Mulder's regal and fluid electric guitar soloing ringing out the grandest of symphonic majesty, and vocalist Jos Harteveld's raspy croon sounds even more charismatic in a live setting. Among the very faithful takes on the studio tracks, several highlights emerge - the electric guitar solo from Eddie at the climax of `Walls' instantly calls to mind Andy Latimar and Camel, the volume on the striking mood- setting spoken-word introduction to the punchy `The Messenger' has been amplified, and the keyboards on `Amathia' hum with endless quivering warmth (both Derk Evert Waalkens and Gert van Engelenburg are credited to keys here, so not sure which plays this bit, but the same restrained care is applied to the sublime synth outro of the above mentioned `Walls'). Symphonic gem `What Would You Do' could also really be a lost Pendragon piece, sharing similar sparkling Clive Nolan-esque synths and the same romantic optimism of the early era of that more well-known English band.

It has to be said that a live Bluray or DVD would be a much more exciting prospect, because Leap Day's live effort here as a mere CD release makes it hardly an essential pick-up. It's only a single vinyl length at 46 minutes (so we're not talking `Yessongs' here!), the cover with the mobile phone is forgettable and only reminds of the worst aspects of modern concerts (although the inside of the fold-out digipack case is colourful with some great photos of the band in action), but perhaps the biggest issue is that the band rarely divert from the structures of the studio versions - solos included. So while you get a very tight and faithful recreation of the recorded discs, a little more in the way of jamming or extended improvised soloing might have been more exciting.

But there's an integrity to Leap Day's music that is deeply admirable, the band playing a proudly retro-styled prog-rock that ticks all the right boxes that Neo and symphonic listeners would want to find, and it just serves to remind that the Dutch band deserves a much bigger audience than they currently enjoy. Newcomers to the group should look into the above-mentioned `Deucalion' studio discs first, but longtime and loyal followers should absolutely snap this up, as there's plenty of magic in hearing Leap Day's wonderful music performed in another environment, and those fans already know how subtly special their music is.

Three and a half stars, but Leap Day fans can make this a four.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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