As far as I'm aware, there are three officially released live recordings by Sky: the live concert video Live In Concert: Bremen, Germany actually filmed and recorded in and released on DVD in ; Five Live a double vinyl album originally released in but subsequently re-released in CD ; and the present one, Live Sky Trees - Khoven - Atmospheric Inspiration (CD) Nottingham recorded and filmed inbut made available on CD--and also on DVD under the Classic Rock Legends banner--in Out of these three live releases, my first choice is without a doubt the Live In Concert: Bremen, Germany video, which despite a less than perfect sound and picture quality captures the band at their best and in my opinion this recording outshines the band's studio albums.
My least favourite of the three is the incoherent Five Live album, which admittedly has several highlights, but overall lacks direction. This brings us to the present recording which falls in between those two in terms of quality.
I think it is fair to say that these three live releases focus on different aspects of the band: while the Bremen recording focuses on the band's progressive side, and Five Live more on the band's jazzy side, Live In Nottingham focuses on the band's Easy-Listening side.
The latter showcases an altogether more laid back band. The three live recordings together give a nice overview. One thing that makes Live In Nottingham stand out is the presence of violin, mandolin, and ukelele.
The first of these is obviously intended as a follow-up to the second. Together with Cannonball from the self-titled debut from the two Hotta-numbers are the most rocking tracks here, but they are somewhat less rocking than other versions of these tunes.
These are certainly good and enjoyable versions, but I can't help note that the band feels and sounds somewhat tired here compared to the aforementioned Live In Concert: Bremen film. Jehad is Sky Trees - Khoven - Atmospheric Inspiration (CD) Middle-Eastern-sounding number that is not present on any studio recording.
It is dark and atmospheric yet never degenerates into ambient territory. I like it. Reverie similarly never appeared on a studio album. It is a beautiful, mellow, Classical piece driven by grand Sky Trees - Khoven - Atmospheric Inspiration (CD) and acoustic guitar.
It is very solemn to the point of almost sending you to sleep--in a good way! It is at this point that we get a couple of lesser numbers. Meheeco is jazzier here than the studio version on 's Sky 3 and starts with a rather long improvisational part that I don't value highly. Still, that one is much less of a problem than the downright awful Would You say I'm In Love With You which features cheesy keyboard sounds and an unbearable tropical-island-beat.
This is something you would expect in a touristy bar in some tropical holiday resort, not on a Rock album. Overall, a rather nice live album. I have not seen the video version of it. Most band's I know of that called their albums by their order of appearance 1, 2, 3, etc. This was, however, not entirely without justification as this live release did contain lots of new material that appears only on this album and nowhere else but also a few Sky classics.
So despite being a live album, this was also, in one sense, properly speaking Sky 5. The contents are a mixed bag with some strong moments amidst longer sections of boredom. Apparently there are several versions of this album, some lacking the 20 minute plus opening The Animals. It is however not a great loss! It is clear from the start that Sky took a more jazzy and improvisational approach on this album. It starts out well enough in a moderately structured and melodic vein, but rather soon it deteriorates; half way through it looses direction and becomes a rather tedious, slow, jazzy thing.
This piece falls very far behind previous "side-long" compositions by the band such as Where Opposites Meet from Sky 1 and Fifo from Sky 2. This is followed by the equally dull The Swan which is a very understated, mellow, Classical piece. If you have managed to stay awake until the end of this track, you're in for something more interesting. The best track on the whole album is KP1 very unimaginatively titled after the initials of its creator, Kevin Peek.
With such a track there is still hope for this album. Next up is Dance Of The Little Fairies, one of the previously familiar numbers, which is a good piece though I prefer other versions over this one.
Love Duet is together with the aforementioned KP1 the other really worthy new piece of music presented here. Very pleasant, but not particularly memorable. The Bathroom Song is utterly and completely pointless and consists of someone playing piano and mindlessly singing la la la la while the rest of the band presumably had gone to the toilet!
It might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but there's really no excuse for including it on a live album. KP2 is a fun little, uptempo rocking number.
I fail to detect any real connection to KP1. Antigua slows things down considerably and is a lovely, Classical-style guitar piece. They return to familiar ground with Sahara which was originally a great number from Sky 2 that reminds me a lot of Al Di Meola's style, though the original studio version is better. Sakura Variations sounds to me like mindless improvisation on acoustic guitar that really goes nowhere. Meheeco is another disappointment as it reminds little of its studio counterpart.
Hotta, on the other hand, does remind of its studio counterpart, but it lacks the latter's excitement. A couple of stronger moments, but overall a rather disappointing release.
I much recommend to begin with the earlier and very much better live concert video Live In Concert: Bremen, Germany actually recorded in ; sometimes goes under the alternative title of Live Across Europe. Sky Five Live is primarily recommended for fans for whom I reckon it must be essential due to the several songs not available elsewhere.
While the DVD states that the event took place inthe band's official website claims that this information is mistaken and that it was actually in The track list shown on the Sky Trees - Khoven - Atmospheric Inspiration (CD) is also almost completely mistaken according to the same source.
Sky was here a very tight unit and the performance is close to perfect as far as the playing goes, the band also seem to enjoy what they are doing. However, the interaction with the audience is minimal at best. With the exception of keyboard player Francis Monkman ex-Curved Airthe band is sitting down during the whole show and so is the audience. Monkman is the liveliest of the performers and he shines on piano, harpsichord, and various other keyboard instruments.
The band's website gives an explanation for the somewhat lukewarm audience response. This was very early on in the band's career and it is probable that the audience just didn't know what to expect from these guys.
Perhaps, it didn't fit their expectations. It does fit mine, however. Sky are obviously highly talented musicians and there is a very nice balance between acoustic and electric instruments. The rest of the band consists of John Williams on classic guitars, Kevin Peek on electric guitars, Herbie Flowers on electric bass, and Tristan Fry on drums and xylophone.
The set list is appealingly varied and alternates between up-tempo "bouncy" numbers that bring to mind Alan Parsons Project-instrumentals, and gorgeous classical and folky pieces. In the folkier moments they remind me of Mike Oldfield and Gordon Giltrap, and in the more classically oriented, mellow numbers Steve Hackett's Classical side comes to mind.
The sound and picture quality are not perfect, but the quality of the music itself easily makes up for those minor flaws, Sky Trees - Khoven - Atmospheric Inspiration (CD).
It is chill-out music to put your nerves on edge. The quintet have a knack for locating a particular dreamy tension in the sweetness of a beautifully crafted melodythe spooky nocturnal edges evoked by off kilter atmospheric arrangements and the psychic disturbance inherent in the weirdness of Thom Yorke's voice.
U sually, however, Radiohead's dark ballads think Exit Music, No Surprises, Fake Plastic Trees provide temporary if often illusory respite from the even darker and more full blooded dramas offered by the band at full tilt.
On A Moon Shaped Pool they give ballads full sway, closing the album with the exquisitely gorgeous True Love Waits, a song that has featured in their sets since and was previously released as a live solo acoustic version on an EP in Here, Yorke's guitar has been replaced by echoing, ambient keyboard figures but the essential brooding beauty of the original remains, a love song that sounds like a threat.
G uitars haven't been entirely abandoned. Indeed, it is a pleasure to report that, after the glitchy electro experiments and tense percussive rhythms of 's King of Limbs, both acoustic and electric guitars feature prominently in dense, detailed arrangements, weaving, riffing and rippling through the grooves of Decks Dark, Identikit and Present Tense.
But there is none of the overdriven distortion that gave Nineties Radiohead so much visceral power. They remain a rock band who don't want to rock. On the mournful Desert Island Disk, the delicate acoustic figure is suggestive of the folky introspection of Nick Drake, albeit if the tragic singer-songwriter were marooned on an asteroid in outer space.
F olk is a key reference. Listeners of a certain vintage may detect hints of Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span in the tricky depths of The Numbers, a song that channels the prog-folk of the Seventies through the mad sonic adventure and disregard for formal structure of Paranoid Android. There is a richness of detail in its beautifully chaotic collision of jazzy piano, Bert Jansch-style guitar figures, exuberant cinematic strings and warped stacks of backing vocals to keep springing surprises with each hearing, suggesting this is a song to unveil slowly.
Penultimate track Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief proves a slow-burning epic, built on a snail-paced electro bass that gathers power with each round of the chord sequence, as it is swallowed up in echoing guitars and Jonny Greenwoods wild cinematic strings as lustrous as anything Jack Nitzsche or John Barry could come up with.
Pop Them Things - DJ Whoo Kid & Alchemist Present Mobb Deep - The New Mobb Deep (CDr), My Little Girl - The Jeff Healey Band - See The Light (CD, Album), Abracadabra - Various - Flieger - Flug 6 (CD), Another Brick In The Wall - DJ Romeo (4) - Absinth_Mix (Cassette), Ja Eusi Zwei Chätzli - Sylvia Sempert - Jungi Schwän Und Äntli (Vinyl), The Most Beautifullest Thing In This World (Green-Eyed Remix), Nowhere To Go - Mushroomhead - XIII (CD, Album), Battle Zone - Various - Iron Bonehead - Label Compilation (CD), Herzschlag - BodyFarm / D.N.F. - Minimal Ist Maximal / Alle Hände Greifen Zu! (CDr)