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This page chronicles the Upsilon Live reviews that have either been submitted to MPM, or that we have been able to find through our own snooping about.  If you are aware of any others, feel free to shoot us a note.

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MPM comments:  Review added (to this page) on August 24, 2010.  This review (which is the first to the best of our knowledge) comes from the German website Babyblaue Prog-Reviews.  It was written by Andreas Hofmann of Köln, Germany.  Herr Hofmann, in addition to being a family man and a functioning member of German society, is also apparently a music lover and reviewer (not that being a music lover and a functioning member of society are mutually exclusive, at least in some cases).  Thanks to the number of e-mails we exchanged in discussing the logistics of Upsilon Live, etc., I feel like I know Andreas well and am pleased to be able to include his review here.  I also know from reading his previous reviews that he is a thoughtful, deliberate, and constructively critical reviewer, so I am pleased that his review is quite positive.  This means all that much more when it comes from someone obviously not hesitant to speak his mind.  Finally, I need to thank Herr Hofmann for supplying an English translation of his original German langauge review.  Folks interested in the original German language review can find it using the "Publisher" link below.  The English language version is as follows:

Reviewer:  Andreas Hofmann
Publisher:  Babyblaue Prog-Reviews
Format Reviewed:  DVD

Review:  If you have a small band that doesn't really play music for the masses and thus doesn't sell a lot of CDs, you are bound to have a rather tight budget and need either luck or the right connections if you want to release a live DVD.  All the more so if the result should also be reasonably presentable, otherwise YouTube will have to do.  Upsilon Acrux were lucky and even had a family connection.  In the past the father of drummer Chris Meszler had already bootlegged the band a dozen or so times using a portable recording device.  Now he wanted to tape them more professionally because in his opinion there were quite a few differences between UA live and in the studio (of course, he had a "genetic" interest in the band, too).  Using his own connections he was then able to make a recording possible that is certainly worth watching and listening to.  Of course, you may not expect a hi-tech product filmed by dozens of cameras, with a sophisticated light show, pyrotechnics and 5.1 sound, but considering the available options the result has turned out utterly presentable.

Those who have watched UA live videos on YouTube or even went to see them on their European tour in 2009 will also be aware of the fact that Upsilon Acrux are not necessarily known for their energetic stage shows (maybe with the exception of their very active drummer).  The band is rather static and concentrated, but given the sophisticated and complicated compositions this should not be surprising because you simply cannot play their elaborate compositions holding the guitar over your head and jumping from the stage monitors.  There are no announcements, and no value is given to extravagant stage outfits.  The stage is illuminated by bright white lights, only the drummer mostly (and regrettably) disappears in the shadow cast by bassplayer Marty Sataman.  And even though you cannot see what keyboardist Phil Cobb plays on the keys of his Moog and often have problems to catch sight of Paul Lai's fretboard (because he always stands sideways), you get a very good impression of what the five young men have to accomplish on their instruments...

...which brings us to the music: driven by an absolutely transparent and clear sound you get three songs from the last album "Radian Futura" (even including the nearly 30-minute "Transparent Seas", consequently subtitled "The Long Song"), two from "Volucris Avis Dira-Arum" (including the Goblin cover "Night of the Goblin"), one each from "In The Acrux of the Upsilon King" and "Galapagos Momentum", and the song "45 Seconds", which appears in different versions on both "The Last Pirates of Upsilon" and "Last Train Out" (and also as "45 Rodents" on "Volucris Avis Dirae-Arum").  There is also "Caspar Brötzmann of Brohawks" from the split with Honey Ride Me a Goat, and of course the wonderfully insane Queen cover version of "Bicycle Race" which is most loudly intoned by Cobb.  Everything is presented unedited and without any overdubs and thus with all the blemishes that happen during a show.  However, this does not have a negative impact at all but gives the song material the soul and vividness that some people miss in the studio versions.

The only criticism I might like to mention are the sometimes rather jerky camera zooms and that in my opinion the guitar channels are swapped - David Moeggenberg, who is standing on the left of the stage, is on the right channel, while Paul Lai, who is standing on the right, can be heard on the left channel.  I'm confused by that when I watch the DVD, but maybe that's just me.  Be that as it may - what you get here (available on DVD, CD and as MP3 Download) is an extremely enjoyable Upsilon Acrux compilation.  In large parts the songs work even better than the studio versions, and so "Upsilon Live" is not only for fans and newcomers, but also for those who think the albums are too sterile.

The band you see here is now history because shortly after this show mastermind Paul Lai once again exchanged all his fellow musicians; he is already back with a new version of Upsilon Acrux that features two drummers again (just like on "Volucris Avis Dira-Arum").  If you listen to "Upsilon Live", which was of course taped in their favorite club "The Smell" in Los Angeles, you may indeed regret that.

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MPM comments:  Comment added on August 24, 2010/updated September 22,2010.  We would also be remiss if we did not thank the various independent radio stations that are providing significant airplay for Upsilon Live.  Those that have come to our attention include: KALX at UC-Berkeley, KAOS at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, KDHX in St. Louis, KDVS at UC-Davis, WFMU in Jersey City, New Jersey, WPKN in Bridgeport, Connecticut, WPRB at Princeton, WUSB at SUNY-Stony Brook, and WXDU at Duke University.  Our sincere thanks to you all. 

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MPM comments:  Comment added on September 22,2010.  The following review (and associated ad) appeared in the Autumn 2010 issue of Progression magazine (issue #60).  We encourage everyone to go out and pick up a copy, order a subscription, etc. -- not because of Upsilon Live, but because this publication is literally a work of art that is devoted to the progressive music scene. You can find out more using the "Publisher" link below. 

Reviewer:  Mark Newman
Publisher:  Progression Magazine
Format Reviewed:  CD

Review appears on page 110
(maximum rating is 16):

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Ad appears on page 54:

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Page Last Updated: September 22, 2010
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