Vanden Plas - Spirit Of Live Inside Out Music - 2001 /images/covers/VandenPlas.jpg I enjoy listening to live albums. There have been some great live albums released in the past like Iron Maidens Live After Death and Iced Earths Alive in Athens (my two favorite live albums). To me, a live album must make you feel like you are actually in the show. The production should take into consideration the clarity of the instruments and the screaming fans should be heard. Spirit of Live is able to achieve all the criteria that I consider important. First of all, this is my first Vanden Plas album, so I have no idea how well their past albums have been represented here. Spirit of Live was recorded on February 13, 2000 at the Elysée Montmartre in Paris, France and it is a highly charged album. The production is excellent, all the instruments and the vocals sound crystal clear, and the crowds are well represented. Stephan Lill provides the powerful and melodic guitars; he is accompanied by the lush keyboard sounds of Gunter Werno, the steady rhythmic playing of bassist Torsten Reichert and drummer Andreas Lill. Andy Kuntz impressively handles the vocals; he shows incredible range and sings with a lot of passion and he really shows no signs of fatigue as the show wears on. I also like the fact that Andy engages the crowd in French, adding a personal touch. Spirit of Live starts off with one of the shortest and heaviest songs found on this album, I Can See. It is definitely a high-octane song to get the show started strongly. The next song Into the Sun has a real cool catchy chorus (the crowd sings along) and unique keyboard melody lines. I found it really interesting that later on in the album Vanden Plas decided to play two instrumentals in a row (at first I thought that the energy of the show was going to be lost but that was not the case), Journey to Paris and Spirit of Life. The former is a great piece dominated by the keyboards. It starts off frantically but it then goes into a soothing piano melody. After the instrumentals another great song is played, Iodic Rain. Some great keyboard playing heavily drives this track; it is also another heavier song. The final three songs, You Fly, Far Off Grace and Rainmaker (Patrick Rondat, who is now the new Elegy guitarist, provides a guest appearance on this track) all feature some great musicianship by the entire band especially by Stephan and Gunter. They are all excellent songs and they really end the show with a grand finale. This is a great live album. It is too bad I wasnt familiar with the band before this album so I could appreciate it better but never the less I really enjoy playing it. I would imagine that for fans this is a must-own album and it is a great album to get an introduction to Vanden Plas.