By Ross Muir
Even in this day and age of instantly available or accessible live material (not all of it official, sadly) and options to pick, choose and download recently performed sets from many an artist, it may seem strange to release a live album after only two studio releases. But in the case of IOEarth, there are a couple of extremely good reasons for doing so.
Firstly, IOEarth are one of the few progressive bands that truly are progressive as regards musical creativity, innovation and diversity of influences. To such a degree they have created what is known as the “IOEarth Sound.” And it’s a sound they can replicate live, courtesy of the individual talents and collective capabilities of Dave Cureton (guitars & vocals), Adam Gough (keyboards, rhythm guitar & theremin), Claire Malin (vocals), Richard Cureton (drums), Christian Nokes (bass) and Luke Shingler (saxophone & flute). And when you add the energy and edge of a live performance to the quality of the songs you have a live album that becomes almost mandatory.
Secondly, the performance itself – from the RoSfest 2012 festival in the famous Gettysburg borough of Pennsylvania – was, to that point, IOEarth’s biggest in terms of size and exposure. The invite to play the festival was a notable compliment in itself, but the fact the band received a standing ovation after only the third song – at their first ever gig in the USA – tells you more about the performance IOEarth delivered than any review can.
The title track of the Moments album opened the set and was the perfect introduction to IOEarth and their distinct sound. Atmospheric intro builds to a melodic lead guitar over rock-driven groove, before the song heads into an eastern themed, primarily instrumental section. Vocalist Claire Malin (who was in fine voice throughout) is then featured on a very short lyrical section before the song returns to its east-meets-classic-rock theme. The lighter, almost ethereal ‘Drifting’ is followed by ‘Cinta Indah’ and while the latter also contains lighter, moodier passages, it diversifies to include bold sections of power-driven symphonic rock. Debut album highlights included an outing for ‘EEEE,’ where eastern cadences meet rock fusion head on, ‘The Creation,’ with Dave Cureton in fine six-string form and the power rock of ‘Home,’ featuring Claire Malin in full voice.
Each song performed was a mini highlight in itself, but the back to back brace of ‘Live Your Life’ Parts 1 and 2 from Moments were hard to beat. Opening as a beautiful piano-based ballad featuring Adam Gough and Claire Malin, the second part of the song gravitates to a high-energy rock piece with the band shifting into top gear.
Live in the USA isn’t just a great summation of the first couple of chapters in the music book of IOEarth. It also underlines them. And adds a very expressive exclamation point.
By Ross Muir