Saga - 'Spin It Again! Live In Munich'

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Saga - 'Spin It Again! Live In Munich'

Stunning visuals, perfect sound and some humorous offstage footage make this their best visual release to date.

Canadian icons Saga may have seen a massive drop in their North American popularity since the 1980s, and it doesn't look like their next UK gig is coming anytime soon, but in mainland Europe they're still appreciated, especially now that original singer Michael Sadler has returned after a five year absence. So, it makes perfect sense to record an album and DVD on the last date of the tour in support of their excellent '20/20' album in the Saga stronghold of Munich in Germany, the scene of regular Saga tours and multiple live DVD releases in the past. I have all the DVD's and have enjoyed them immensely, but it's my great pleasure to report that 'Spin It Again! Live In Munich' is my favourite, for many reasons.

For one thing the band were on fire (when were they ever not?) and could easily hold their own as musicians against any band you could care to name. Having said that, the blistering and intricate nature of Ian Crichton's guitar playing means that some of his parts have a tendency to be a bit harsh or messy, or sometimes he just changes parts that have become an integral part of their music. No such worries here, he's at his most devastating on classics like 'Mouse In A Maze', 'Careful Where You Step' and 'Tired World', doing seemingly impossible things on a regular basis.

Jim Gilmour's keys - along with vital contributions from vocalist Sadler and bassist Jim Crichton - are the cornerstones of Saga's sound and everything here is delivered perfectly and with more feeling than such technical songs have a right to have. Sadler is his usual enigmatic self, involving the audience and helping out on bass or keys alongside his unique vocals. However, the biggest difference here is that new drummer Mike Thorne isn't only a percussive powerhouse, but he sings, and very well too, giving the band far more options with the arrangements.

The set-list is a perfect mix of songs from the latest album and iconic choices from their first half-dozen, with only the 'Generation 13' outing 'The Cross' straying from that format. The new instrumental 'Corkentellis' shows the Prog-Metal brigade a thing or two and a run at the end of no less than eight songs from their first four releases sees the band slip effortlessly into an otherworldly zone that few bands could hope to ever reach. Stunning visuals (on Blu-Ray at last!), perfect sound and some humorous offstage footage make this their best visual release to date.

Phil Ashcroft

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