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Henrik Freischlader Band – Live In Concerts 4 CD Box Set

Henrik Freischlader Band – Live In Concerts.
Cable Car Records.
CD1 – 8 tracks; 76 minutes.
CD2 – 8 tracks; 73 minutes.
CD3 – 10 tracks; 62 minutes.
CD4 – 6 tracks; 57 minutes.

31 year old German guitarist Henrik Freischlader has been recording under his own name for eight prolific years, issuing eight albums including two previous live disc sets. This sprawling four disc set finds Henrik fronting a four piece band consisting of himself on guitar and vocals, Moritz Fuhrhop on keys, Theofilos Fotiadis on bass/BV and Björn Krüger on drums/BV. The two concerts here were recorded in Arnsberg on 21 May 2011 (part of the “Still Frame Replay” tour) and Hannover on 8 November 2012 (part of the “House In The Woods” tour). The earlier set was previously released on DVD. Both are full length shows and include some short intros and stage announcements in German though all the songs are in English. Henrik and his band have been making quite a name for themselves in the UK with the blues rock audience and it was interesting to find out something about the band from these recordings.

Most of the material here is original though Henrik does two Hendrix tunes as the encore in the first concert, covers Peter Green on both dates and the Beatles on the later set. He also tackles “I’d Rather Go Blind”. The style here is a mixture of impassioned ballads and hard rocking cuts, many featuring Henrik’s guitar which to this reviewer’s ears carries the influence of the late Gary Moore. His singing voice is a little indistinct, but serviceable.

The two songs which gave their name to the tours are both upbeat cuts: “Still Frame Replay” appears early on Disc 1 with sledgehammer drumming and heavy metal style organ; “House In The Woods” is towards the end of the show on Disc 4 with some heavy rocking, sometimes discordant, guitar and organ. The band has sensibly chosen to play mainly different sets for these live recordings: just four songs appear on both nights, two of which are epic productions, one stretching to over 20 minutes. The common material across the two nights includes Peter Green’s “I Loved Another Woman” which is played very nicely, close to the original in spirit and delivery; “Longer Days” is a shortish rocker with an insistent guitar riff at its centre; “The Bridge” and “Breakout” are both extended numbers, all four cuts going to over ten minutes in length. Whilst extended versions are always a feature of live performance some of these tunes do outstay their welcome, “The Bridge” being a rather plodding slow blues and “Breakout”, whilst starting promisingly, gets lost across the piece. A more effective ballad (almost Americana in style) is “Two Young Lovers” on which the band plays sympathetically in support of Henrik’s wistful vocals. Moritz’s organ solo here has quite a gospel sound, a fact reinforced by the following track “Mo’s Gospel”, a solo feature for the organist.

Towards the end of Disc 4 the band covers The Beatles’ “Come Together” very effectively with strong organ playing. Unfortunately the ‘warts and all’ approach of having the entire concert on the disc means that after the song closes there are about three minutes of silence and quietly strumming guitar before the actual finale, another lengthy ballad entitled “Won’t You Help Me”. On the earlier set the band closes with the two Hendrix covers which make for an upbeat finale although what Jimi would have made of the band’s version of “Foxy Lady” is difficult to say! In 1967 Jimi said all that was needed in 3.19 of fun lyrics and sizzling guitar sounds: here the tune becomes a bloated 12.15 of self-indulgent guitar.

It is easy to see why (blues) rock fans will warm to this type of material but it may be easier to start with one of the band’s studio discs if you are looking to try them out. This generously filled box set will certainly delight fans of the band but will not strike much of a chord with straight blues fans.

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