Released last year, this triple CD/DVD/Blu-ray captures Circuline at 2017’s ProgStock Festival. I was sent this as an audio download to review, but I also ended up with a physical copy and I am so glad I did, as seeing the full package is quite something. As well as the digipak containing the discs and some basic information, my copy came with a full colour glossy 28 page A4 programme which contains loads of photos, information about the history of the band, details of everyone who ever played with them, why certain changes were made in line-up, and so much more. Although I have been playing the audio a great deal recently in time for the review, I actually first played the Blu-ray with the audio commentary turned on, and it is exactly what it purports to be, various band members talking about the show, why certain pieces were played, the history and so much more. I have always enjoyed these as they never cease to add so much more to the band, providing a far more rounded view to outsiders like me, and that is again the case here.
It was recorded at ProgStock, so it is a given that the camerawork and audio quality are first rate, and by 2017 they had released two albums (I have not heard the second, need to rectify that) and had been touring them hard both in America and the UK. Additionally, much of the band had originally worked together as a covers group playing prog classics (keep an ear out for bits and pieces which make their way into this set unannounced), so they all know what they are doing and were confident in their own abilities and knowing the audience would be very much on their side. The album is as one would expect from a prog band: they are able to replicate onstage the huge complexity of their music while also taking it to another level. It is multi-layered, multi-faceted, yet always immediate, allowing the listener to get deep inside the music the very first time of playing it.
The PR company describes the band as “two theatrical lead vocalists, a keyboard player from Juilliard, a versatile rock virtuoso on guitar, a zany bass player from another galaxy, and a drummer with progressive rock in his DNA.” That does not really give them the kudos they deserve, for a wonderfully entertaining and enjoyable set. There are very few international acts (even in normal times), and even less prog acts (stand up Yes and Steve Hackett) who make it down all the way to Aotearoa, so I know the likelihood of ever seeing Circuline in concert is very small indeed. However, this wonderful set allows me to play the concert on a big screen and revel in a very professional and exciting crossover commercial progressive rock band who are a sheer delight from the beginning to the end.