Love de Vice is one of the many new alternative/prog groups to emerge from Poland in recent years - a country which has warmly embraced the progressive rock movement since it's inception with bands like SBB (featuring keyboard genius Jozef Skrzek), Exodus, Skaldowie, RSC, Klan, and Collage, and continues to hold the genre in high regard; unlike most who have written-off prog/rock as an Antediluvian art-form from our distant past. And Metal Mind Records (known primarily for producing raucous heavy metal mayhem) is fanning the prog/rock flames with their impressive collection of well produced concert events DVDs filmed in Poland, including both international classic pioneers and neo-prog artists such as: Arena, Final Conflict, Galahad, Jadis, Landmarq, Pallas, Pendragon, Riverside, RPWL, Satellite, SBB and Shadowland ... to name a few.
This is the first concert DVD for Love de Vice, a popular Polish group with two Cd's' to their credit: the 2009 release "Dreamland" and the 2012 follow-up "Numaterial". Strangely enough, the bulk of the tunes on their concert DVD "Silesian Night 11.11.11" is comprised of unreleased material from an upcoming album - as yet unnamed. Yet to their credit the audience was quite gracious and enthusiastic, considering their unfamiliarity with the new material.
From the information gleamed after viewing the supplemental material on the disc, the band opted to bypass their familiar tunes siting the older songs no longer reflect the direction the band is pursuing with their current line-up. Sounds like Robert Fripp's ever-evolving chameleon philosophy towards King Crimson. Leading someone like myself - unfamiliar with the band - to assume the material on the DVD performance is quite different from the music on their first two albums.
And after a quick on-line search for available material - I'd have to agree. One of the supplemental features on the DVD is a music video for "Foggy Future" from the debut album "Dreamland", which includes the original line-up. And the style is quite different from the collection of musicians performing at the Silesian Theater. Their earlier tunes were much lighter and pop orientated, whereas the material performed on "Silesian Night 11.11.11" is comprised of melancholy chilled-out ballads. Even positive up-beat titles like "Frosty Morning", "Moments Of Joy" and "With You Now" are dark, brooding and moody. An observation reinforced by vocalist Pawel "Ozzie" Granecki as he reveals at one point in the concert, "Only downer songs tonight".
I'd compare their chilled-out musical style similar to Roger Waters post Floyd material, the Steve Wilson side project No Man, Airbag, and Hogarth era Marillion. And although Love de Vice may view themselves as harder-edged neoprogressive artists, based on the material on this DVD the music would have greater appeal to the Alternative rock crowd than an audience at a prog/rock festival. It's not until the second to the last song in the set "Winter Of the Soul", that the band perks-up. Up until that point (with the exception of lively bassist Robert "R.i.P." Pelka the only musician to display any stage presence - dressed from the waist up as a priest and the waist down in a Scottish kilt) the musicians were sedate and stoic like animatronic theme park mannequins. Thankfully the up-tempo "Winter Of The Soul" amped-up the energy level, with the feel of a 70s' Italian prog/rock anthem from a group like Goblin or PFM. This tune might easily be mistaken for something from the French band Halloween. Eerie and Gothic - but with a macabre kinetic energy missing in the earlier tunes.
"Say No" may not have possessed the energy level of "Winter Of The Soul" but it is another stand-out track, and an atmospheric ballad with a great hook and an excellently orchestral arrangement, courtesy of keyboardist Jacek Melnicki.
Love de Vice does an exceptional cover of the Deep Purple's classic tune "When A Blind Man Cries"; quite unique yet keeping in the style of their other Love de Vice material.
On a less positive note, the band mimics the exact chord progression of the YES song "Machine Messiah" in their tune "Passion" - a tune which ends in much the same way as the Yes song begins. All the while I kept thinking ... damn this is familiar ... then a light-bulb clicked-on. Same chord progression and sonic texture. Think - King Crimson (era "Larks Tongue In Aspic) meets YES.
"If I Were The Wind" could be misconstrued as a cross-over contemporary Country/rock ballad. The combined cello of National Philharmonic musician Mateusz Szmyt and Tomaz "Ragboy" Osiecki's dilruba (a variation of the Hindu sitar which is played with a bow) could easily be mistaken for the predominant 'fiddle' that propels many country/rock tunes.
For the unadventurous who shy away from international artists singing in their native tongue, no problem here, all the lyrics are performed in English ... even though they speak to the audience in Polish. The supplemental material, on the other hand, is in Polish with English subtitles. It's a bit of a jolt hearing Pawel "Ozzie" Granecki address the crowd in Polish then announces the song title in perfect English. I find it positively mind boggling that individuals unfamiliar with the English language can write lyrics in English and sing a song phonetically - and do a credible job of it. When nervous, I get tongue-tied simply speaking English.
The current line-up for Love de Vice includes: Pawel "Ozzie" Granecki (vocals, guitars), Andrzej "Messi" Archanowicz (guitars), Jacek Melnicki (keyboards), Robert "R.i.P." Pelka (bass) and Tomasz "Kudel" Kudelski ) drums. Guest musicians for the concert include Mateusz Szmyt (cello) and Tomas "Ragboy" Osiecki (dilruba, guitar).
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on December 9th, 2012