Released: 2005, Inside Out Music
It’s about damn time that prog-metal institution Fates Warning finally had a proper DVD release. 2003’s THE VIEW FROM HERE was a disjointed affair at best, so it’s a treat to finally have a true full live concert. Filmed in Athens (hmm…explains the title!) on their 2005 European tour, the show whips through 15 of the best-known songs of the Ray Alder era. Sorry Arch fans, there is nothing (!) here pre-NO EXIT. I know what you’re thinking and I agree – that is a huge disappointment. No “Kyrie Elesion”, “Valley of the Dolls”, nada. Sure it’s old news to the band and they want to highlight their more recent material, but some classics would have helped spice things up a bit.
What is played is some of the most memorable Fates Warning songs since Alder joined the band, all played with the typical FW aplomb. These guys have to be one of the tightest bands today, even with the here today, gone tomorrow, and back again guitarist Frank Aresti and session drummer Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard) backing up regulars Alder, Vera, and Matheos. Blistering versions of “The Eleventh Hour” and “Face the Fear” help erase the disappointment of the track list, and Alder sounds just as powerful live as in the studio.
Excellent sound aside, I have two major issues with this DVD. One, it was obviously shot on a low budget. After seeing multi-camera extravaganzas released by the likes of Overkill, Blind Guardian, and Motorhead, this relatively minimal footage is a disappointment. I realize the band probably wasn’t given a huge budget and did the best they could, but this type of show just can’t compete with today’s standards.
Two, the band’s performance is plain dull. Alder and Vera try hard, moving around and generally looking like they’re enjoying themselves, but Matheos and Aresti look positively bored. Matheos especially looks like he’d rather be somewhere else. For a guy who’s put his heart and soul into Fates Warning for 20+ years, you’d think he’d be at least a little excited to be one stage, filming a DVD to commemorate his music. You’d think, but you’d be wrong.
As for extras, it’s a mixed bag at best. Watching Mike Portnoy play a couple songs with the band is kind of cool, but I could give a shit about the rehearsal and sound check for the show. Overall, the extras portion was another let down. More excitement, better song selection, and much better extras (how about a lengthy historical interview?) all could have made this DVD an event. As it is, it’s for the hardcore fans only.