By Enrico Spinelli

I don't think Arjen Lucassen will ever read this long post but I would love to thank him for existing! It's no secret that I have boundless esteem for this brilliant artist and his eclectic projects, and Ayreon occupies and will always occupy a special place in my heart... and this release in particular...

I vividly remember my first experience with Ayreon's music back in 2008. I spotted a nice double disc in the window of my regular record store with an intriguing title, "01011001". Upon my first listen, I was captivated by the opening rattle of "Age of Shadows" and the successive emotional journey through each song. The diverse cast and the blend of progressive and deeply emotional styles debunked the notion that prog music is purely intellectual and cold.

Within a few months, I had collected all of Ayreon's releases, uncovering more beautiful works, but my first purchase held a special place in my heart.

The fear of having to deal with works destined to remain confined to the studio had found comfort in the recent and excellent transpositions of "The Human Equation", with an extraordinary scenography and a crazy performance compared to "Loser" (not the fault of the performers but too perfect in the studio version), and of "Into the Electric Castle".

Thus arrives, as unexpected as it is welcome, this new release which pays homage to the album I spoke about at the beginning by re-proposing it in its entirety live with part of the original cast (and here it is worth shedding a tear of regret for the premature death of the great Steve Lee, R.I.P.). As soon as that well-known rattling sound spreads through the headphones with the audience in the background, the goosebumps and a nice tachycardia already begin, which reaches its peak at the explosion of that same "Age of Shadows" from 16 years ago. 

From then on a CAPITAL performance, where the singers and musicians carry out their task more than admirably, dignifiedly making up for the absences of the original cast and transmitting the entire universe of emotions that this opera brings with it, with some sensational friends as in "The fifth Extinction" (those who are not moved at the end can only have a tear defect as an extenuating circumstance) or in the conclusion; a musical journey that is accompanied by a strange scent that surrounds the air around and penetrates every nerve ending, giving a feeling of total involvement in the musical plot that unfolds. 

As in the previous live show, there is space for a trio of extras, "This Human Equation", one of the best episodes of "Transitus", the powerful and Maiden-like "Fate of Man" and one of the episodes dearest to me of "The Source", the long and wonderful "The Day that the World Breaks Down". Thus ends a unique, unrepeatable listening experience, made up of moments that are at times magical, emotionally engaging and technically impeccable.

And finally, the nature of that scent perceived while listening becomes clear, the scent of a miracle!
Giovanni Gagliano

Passionate about music I wrote my first article for "Given To Rock" in 2012, reaching now 30K global followers. I am also a musician, gigging around London.

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