Job : I’m usually not a fan of live registrations – rarely do they truly capture the magic of the show. In this case, I’m going to be upfront with you, because I have a lot of ground to cover: Ayreon Universe is simply the best live registration I have ever seen and a shining example of how you capture the lightning of a show in a bottle. The goosebumps washed over me watching this show again, and that’s something magical for sure. Visually stunning, with perhaps some of the best mixing and mastering in recent history. Everything that sounded great during the actual show is captured fabulously on this DVD.
Once again, the musicianship shines brightest – I gushed over it in my live review with Evil Dr. Smith, and I will do so again and again – there was not a single weak link in this band of amazing musicians. The band with Ed Warby, Marcel Coenen (words fail me in describing to you how amazing this guitarist is), Ferry Duijsens, Joost van den Broek and Johan van Stratum never drop the ball and the professionalism shines through in everything they do, every note they play and the insane energy they throw into the crowd. And then there’s the all-star cast of vocalists Arjen managed to gather for these three shows in little old Tilburg last year. Not only was this a wet dream for every prog/rock fan (Hansi Kursch, Tommy Karevik and Damian Wilson on the same stage!), once again there wasn’t one that even stood out – they were all so great! Every personality had his/her shining moment that’s captured perfectly on screen – I mentioned it before but the goosebumps rushed over me every time I saw those names appear on the massive screen. A special mention to the choir consisting of Irene Jansen, Lisette van den Berg and the brilliant Marcelo Bovio as well.
The setlist was marvelous of course and Arjen must’ve had sleepless nights over the songs he picked and the order to play them in. Every era of Ayreon is represented and the dynamics were the focal point – heavy and soft, epic and fragile all follow each other up in rapid succession. Epic bangers like ‘Star of Sirrah’, ‘Ride the Comet’ and ‘Into the Black Hole’ are the contrast to songs like ‘Valley of the Queens’ and ‘Comatose’. It’s all put together flawlessly and there’s not a single dull moment in the 2,5-hour long show.
I’m full of praise and love for this DVD, in case you haven’t noticed. Literally every aspect was captured with stunning precision and the amount of work this whole ordeal must’ve been for main guys Joost van den Broek and of course Arjen Lucassen himself must’ve been staggering. Arjen told me in my interview with him how nervous he was for these shows, but that turned out to be unnecessary as literally every little detail in this show was thought of and performed to perfection. You have one more chance to see this unique show during Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel in June, but this DVD is as close as being there as you’re ever going to get.