AYREON - AYREON UNIVERSE (BLU-RAY)

Published on March 9, 2020, 6:23 pm — Short


AYREON - AYREON UNIVERSE (BLU-RAY)
4.1 (85%) 635 votes
AYREON - AYREON UNIVERSE (BLU-RAY)

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AYREON - AYREON UNIVERSE (BLU-RAY)

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Add to Cart $13. 99 + $6. 90 shipping Sold by: mymediaworld Editorial Reviews ARJEN LUCASSEN TO RELEASE AYREON UNIVERSE March 30th 2018. Ayreon Universe is the best of Ayreon Live - A unique performance featuring 16 singers, 28 songs, 2+ hour performance, 9000+ fans and a special appearance by Arjen Lucassen. All of this captured by 30 cameras! It’s proof that you should never say ‘never’. After creating rock operas in the studio for more than 20 years, prog mastermind Arjen Lucassen, aka Ayreon, finally took his Universe to the stage in September 2017. Three shows sold out within hours after announcing. 9000+ Fans from all corners of the world flocked to the 013 venue in Tilburg, the Netherlands to see this long-awaited show live. This unique performance features 16 singers, 28 songs, an 8 piece band and a special appearance by Arjen. The duration of the show was more than 2 hours. It was filmed with 30 cameras and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray with 5. 1 surround audio, with an extensive list of extras, including a behind-the-scenes documentary with interviews with every singer and musician, and a compilation of the try-out show performed a few weeks earlier. Two years in the making, Ayreon Universe is a full on rock extravaganza, featuring songs from all Ayreon albums, including 2017’s ‘The Source’, plus a few fan favorites from Star One. An amazing array of singers appeared on stage to bring the Ayreon Universe to life: Floor Jansen (Nightwish), Damian Wilson (Threshold), Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot), Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gentle Storm), Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Mike Mills (Toehider), Marcela Bovio (Stream of Passion), Irene Jansen, Robert Soeterboek (Star One), John Jaycee Cuijpers (Praying Mantis), Edward Reekers (Kayak), Jay van Feggelen, Maggy Luyten (Nightmare) and Lisette van den Berg (Scarlet Stories). This is the show every Ayreon fan has wanted to see and hear! 6. The Theory Of Everything (Live) 9. Dawn Of A Million Souls (Live) 10. Valley Of The Queens (Live) 11. Ride The Comet (Live) 12. Star Of Sirrah (Live) 15. And The Druids Turned To Stone (Live) 2. Into The Black Hole (Live) 7. Intergalactic Space Crusaders (Live) 10. The Castle Hall (Live) 11. Amazing Flight in Space (Live) 12. Day Eleven: Love (Live) Be the first video Your name here Amazon's Ayreon Store.

'Universe' - Ayreon (78/100) As I first opened up Ayreon 's Universe, slipped in the disc and pressed play, I came to the halting realization: I've been a fan of this band now for over ten years. Ten years. That may not be such a long time in the grand scheme, but looking at the way my taste in music has warped and changed in the time since, it's really something to behold that Ayreon 's music still holds up as the progressive metal par excellence I remembered it as. I know it's actually been quite a bit longer than ten years too, but it's 2008 that stands out as my personal "year of Ayreon. " I can still distinctly remember counting down the weeks until 01011001 was released, with the sort of naive enthusiasm that's only possible when you're fifteen years old and still new to the deeper end of the music pool. I remember reading announcements of the CD release party happening half a planet away in Tilburg (if memory serves) and trying to concoct some wild scheme to raise money enough to make it there in person. Music has remained a central motivating force in my life, but I do miss the days when I'd get hooked on a band like that. In that sense, Universe feels very much like a sort of homecoming for me as a listener-- and that's not even touching on the significance it must have for everyone involved, not least of all Arjen himself. Universe feels both like a retrospective of Ayreon 's career and one of its most triumphant moments all at once. Seeing music live tends to have that effect, but the demanding scope of the material has had the effect of keeping live appearances rare. Between scope and rarity; there's two reasons why Universe (but more importantly the event it captured) feels larger-than-life. I won't delay with the obvious. Yes, Ayreon 's Universe sounds fantastic. The performances are incredible across the board. Most important of all, the rock opera bombast on display really owes itself to a live setting. "Larger than life" in the studio sounds larger still on a theatre stage. There wasn't a lot invested in playing out the story action. Nonetheless you can tell the ensemble's confident enough to have some fun with it; Mike Mills' loopy role as MC comes to mind as a case of good humour in an undertaking that could very well have taken itself too seriously. Who could blame them if they had? Over a hundred people were reportedly involved in the production. There wasn't a ton of precedent to lean on outside the pilot Theater Equation from a couple years back. I've always been boggled by the amount of planning, networking and logistics that must be involved in recording an Ayreon album; that challenge rockets up an exponential curve in a case like this where it's all coming together in a single place and time. I'm not sure how much distinction there should be made between Ayreon Universe, and the shows. As for the shows themselves, they turned out incredibly, and as much as I enjoy Universe I burn with envy for all those who got to see it in the flesh. I stand by the thinking that the Universe shows will go down as a bold- fonted chapter in the band history. The DVD release itself is competent in all the ways that matter, but lacks the jaw-dropping effect in of itself as a frame for the magic it captured. The visual direction and film editing feels bog- standard for a concert DVD, and the documentarian second disc disappointingly boils down to the sort of mutually congratulatory talking heads segments you get in every special features disc-- not the piercing Ayreon documentary I might have hoped for. The sound design and mixing are immaculate, but that was never in doubt to begin with. I think Ayreon made the right choice in casting a wide net across all albums. Most of their songs work great as standalones anyway. The fact remains that they had a lot of excellent material to select from; I could repeat saying this because it's as much a burden as a boon to Universe. There were always going to be subjective essentials left off. But for whatever tunes with high stage potential left omitted, like "Journey on the Waves of Time" and "Carried By the Wind", there are bangers like "River of Time" to set things straight. My love of 01011001 was reaffirmed watching Hansi Kursch come on stage. Better still, the live setting breathed a new appreciation for the material on Actual Fantasy and The Theory of Everything; the two Ayreon records I had never been more than "meh" about. I've since returned to them and found new angles I hadn't quite heard before. Funny how live albums can do that.

If you like Ayreon, you may also like: Apex by Unleash The Archers supported by 4 fans who also own “Ayreon Universe” Love this shit go to album INTERNET PROTOCOL by MASTER BOOT RECORD Master Boot Record fires up a monstrously-efficient assembly line, powered by industrial, synth-wave, and hardcore techno. Bandcamp New & Notable May 30, 2019 Paninoteca by ORSO A luxuriant smorgasbord of Neurosis-esque post-metal songs inspired by delicious we say more? Bandcamp New & Notable Apr 17, 2019 Örvény by Perihelion Epic, expansive hard rock from Perihelion that pairs post-metal expansiveness with skyscraping vocal melodies. Bandcamp New & Notable Nov 20, 2017 Pacific Myth (Official Release) by Protest the Hero New release from a Toronto progressive metal band gives Metallica run for their money. Bandcamp New & Notable Nov 18, 2016 The Last Stand by Sabaton The Swedish band weave historical truths into ferocious war hymns, riddled with bombastic bagpipes and lightning-speed riffs. Bandcamp New & Notable Nov 1, 2018 The Fallen King by Frozen Crown Race car fast power metal from Milan, Italy. Bandcamp New & Notable Feb 15, 2018 go to album
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Last post: Sat, 07 Mar 2020 19:24:45 GMT.

 

Add to Cart $64. 91 + $4. 40 shipping Sold by: mymediaworld Editorial Reviews ARJEN LUCASSEN TO RELEASE AYREON UNIVERSE March 30th 2018. Ayreon Universe is the best of Ayreon Live - A unique performance featuring 16 singers, 28 songs, 2+ hour performance, 9000+ fans and a special appearance by Arjen Lucassen. All of this captured by 30 cameras! It’s proof that you should never say ‘never’. After creating rock operas in the studio for more than 20 years, prog mastermind Arjen Lucassen, aka Ayreon, finally took his Universe to the stage in September 2017. Three shows sold out within hours after announcing. 9000+ Fans from all corners of the world flocked to the 013 venue in Tilburg, the Netherlands to see this long-awaited show live. This unique performance features 16 singers, 28 songs, an 8 piece band and a special appearance by Arjen. The duration of the show was more than 2 hours. It was filmed with 30 cameras and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray with 5. 1 surround audio, with an extensive list of extras, including a behind-the-scenes documentary with interviews with every singer and musician, and a compilation of the try-out show performed a few weeks earlier. Two years in the making, Ayreon Universe is a full on rock extravaganza, featuring songs from all Ayreon albums, including 2017’s ‘The Source’, plus a few fan favorites from Star One. An amazing array of singers appeared on stage to bring the Ayreon Universe to life: Floor Jansen (Nightwish), Damian Wilson (Threshold), Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot), Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gentle Storm), Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Mike Mills (Toehider), Marcela Bovio (Stream of Passion), Irene Jansen, Robert Soeterboek (Star One), John Jaycee Cuijpers (Praying Mantis), Edward Reekers (Kayak), Jay van Feggelen, Maggy Luyten (Nightmare) and Lisette van den Berg (Scarlet Stories). This is the show every Ayreon fan has wanted to see and hear! 6. The Theory Of Everything (Live) 9. Dawn Of A Million Souls (Live) 10. Valley Of The Queens (Live) 11. Ride The Comet (Live) 12. Star Of Sirrah (Live) 15. And The Druids Turned To Stone (Live) 2. Into The Black Hole (Live) 7. Intergalactic Space Crusaders (Live) 10. The Castle Hall (Live) 11. Amazing Flight in Space (Live) 12. Day Eleven: Love (Live) Amazon's Ayreon Store.

Sound:PCM Stereo 2. 0/DSS 5. 1/DTS HD MA 5. 1;Bild:16:9;Ländercode:All; Laufzeit:246 Min. *** Digipack Ein Live-Best-Of der Extraklasse Im September letzten Jahres gaben Ayreon drei beeindruckende Konzerte mit insgesamt 16 Sängern und 11 Musikern. 2018 gibt es jetzt den Mitschnitt, und zwar in Bild und Ton. Hier ist »Ayreon Universe – Best Of Ayreon Live«. Wahlweise auf Doppel-CD, 3 LPs, Doppel-DVD, Blu-ray Disc oder im Earbook mit 4 Blu-rays und einer DVD warten die Highlights der Show, die mit über 30 Kameras aufgezeichnet wurde. Neben Arjen Lucassen, der ja bekanntlich der Kopf des niederländischen Progressive-Rock-/Progressive-Metal-Projektes ist, standen auch Floor Jansen (Nightwish), Damian Wilson (Ex-Threshold), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot) und viele weitere Hochkaräter der Szene auf der Bühne. »Ayreon Universe – Best Of Ayreon Live« umfasst insgesamt 28 Songs, darunter Stücke von allen Ayreon-Alben sowie eine Auswahl von Star-One-Songs. Organisation und Arrangements übernahmen Arjen A. Lucassen und Joost van den Broek. Neben dem Konzertfilm warten auf DVD und Blu-ray ein paar spannende Extras, zum Beispiel eine Behind-the-scenes-Dokumentation mit Interviews mit den Sängern und Musikern und vieles mehr. Ein absolutes Livespektakel und ein umfangreiches Best-of in einem: »Ayreon Universe – Best Of Ayreon Live«.

Editorial Reviews ARJEN LUCASSEN TO RELEASE AYREON UNIVERSE March 30th 2018. Ayreon Universe is the best of Ayreon Live - A unique performance featuring 16 singers, 28 songs, 2+ hour performance, 9000+ fans and a special appearance by Arjen Lucassen. All of this captured by 30 cameras! It’s proof that you should never say ‘never’. After creating rock operas in the studio for more than 20 years, prog mastermind Arjen Lucassen, aka Ayreon, finally took his Universe to the stage in September 2017. Three shows sold out within hours after announcing. 9000+ Fans from all corners of the world flocked to the 013 venue in Tilburg, the Netherlands to see this long-awaited show live. This unique performance features 16 singers, 28 songs, an 8 piece band and a special appearance by Arjen. The duration of the show was more than 2 hours. It was filmed with 30 cameras and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray with 5. 1 surround audio, with an extensive list of extras, including a behind-the-scenes documentary with interviews with every singer and musician, and a compilation of the try-out show performed a few weeks earlier. Two years in the making, Ayreon Universe is a full on rock extravaganza, featuring songs from all Ayreon albums, including 2017’s ‘The Source’, plus a few fan favorites from Star One. An amazing array of singers appeared on stage to bring the Ayreon Universe to life: Floor Jansen (Nightwish), Damian Wilson (Threshold), Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot), Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gentle Storm), Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Mike Mills (Toehider), Marcela Bovio (Stream of Passion), Irene Jansen, Robert Soeterboek (Star One), John Jaycee Cuijpers (Praying Mantis), Edward Reekers (Kayak), Jay van Feggelen, Maggy Luyten (Nightmare) and Lisette van den Berg (Scarlet Stories). This is the show every Ayreon fan has wanted to see and hear!

 

ARJEN LUCASSEN TO RELEASE AYREON UNIVERSE March 30th 2018 Ayreon Universe is the best of Ayreon Live - A unique performance featuring 16 singers, 28 songs, 2+ hour performance, 9000+ fans and a special appearance by Arjen Lucassen, captured by 30 cameras! It's proof that you should never say 'never'. After creating rock operas in the studio for more than 20 years, prog mastermind Arjen Lucassen, aka Ayreon, finally took his Universe to the stage in September 2017. Three shows sold out within hours after annoucing. 9000+ Fans from all corners of the world flocked to the 013 venue in Tilburg, the Netherlands to see this long-awaited show live. This unique performance features 16 singers, 28 songs, an 8 piece band and a special appearance by Arjen, lasting over 2 hours. The concert was filmed with 30 cameras and is released on DVD and Blu-ray with 5. 1 surround audio, with an extensive list of extras, including a behind-the-scenes documentary with interviews with every singer and musician, and a compilation of the try-out show performed a few weeks earlier. Two years in the making, Ayreon Universe is a full on rock extravaganza, featuring songs from all Ayreon albums, including 2017's ' The Source ', plus a few fan favorites from Star One. An amazing array of singers appeared on stage to bring the Ayreon Universe to life: Floor Jansen (Nightwish), Damian Wilson (Threshold), Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot), Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gentle Storm), Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Mike Mills (Toehider), Marcela Bovio (Stream of Passion), Irene Jansen, Robert Soeterboek (Star One), John Jaycee Cuijpers (Praying Mantis), Edward Reekers (Kayak), Jay van Feggelen, Maggy Luyten (Nightmare) and Lisette van den Berg (Scarlet Stories). This is the show every Ayreon fan has wanted to see and hear! Tracklisting Blu-ray: 1. Prologue 2. Dreamtime 3. Abbey Of Synn 4. River Of Time 5. The Blackboard 6. The Theory Of Everything 7. Merlin's Will 8. Waking Dreams 9. Dawn Of A Million Souls 10. Valley Of The Queens 11. Ride The Comet 12. Star Of Sirrah 13. Comatose 14. Loser 14. And The Druids Turned To Stone 15. The Two Gates 16. Into The Black Hole 17. Actual Fantasy 18. Computer Eyes 19. Magnetism 20. Age Of Shadows 21. Intergalactic Space Crusaders 22. Collision 23. Everybody Dies 24. The Castle Hall 25. Amazing Flight in Space 26. Day Eleven: Love 27. The Eye Of Ra Sound: DTS-MA 5. 1, PCM 2. 0 Extras: Behind the scenes, incl. interviews with the singers and musicians; Compilation of the try-out show If you order this item together with a pre-order item, we will hold your order and ship all items at once. We recommend that you place a separate order if you wish to receive the released items sooner.

Top positive review 5. 0 out of 5 stars A Real Live Ayreon Rock Show! Reviewed in the United States on March 30, 2018 Wow! I don’t even know where to begin. I always find it a challenge to adequately review a release of this magnitude. Very seldom, though, do I struggle to know where to begin. Universe ultimately encompasses everything Ayreon, back to 1995’s The Final Experiment and including 2017’s The Source (along with Star One for that matter). This is, essentially, what it says it is – a “best of Ayreon” live rock show, replete with all the special effects, scintillating lighting, multi-camera angles and intense performances. There is no concept this time around (imagine that) other than the concept of Ayreon itself – a multi-vocalist, multi-instrumentalist collaboration breathing live life into the studio phenomenon that has been engineered by Arjen Lucassen for more than two decades. But while this performance has its roots deeply planted in the Ayreon universe, it was actually the 2015 live performance of The Human Equation (The Theater Equation) (and subsequent 2016 release of the same) which spawned this current show into reality. Not only did the fan support for that performance surprise the band, but it also inspired Arjen and company to feed that “itch” to make it happen again – only on a larger scale! I will not regurgitate the cast of players here since the pre-release press has that covered. Suffice it to say, the singers represent all eras of the band history, and the songs are mostly well-distributed across the back catalog. Note, there are, however, only two songs from The Source, so this is not a live album in support of the newest release. Likewise, there are only two songs from The Human Equation here, most likely because those songs were featured on The Theater Equation. But with 8 full-length studio albums in tow, how do you even begin to pick a set list … let alone select musicians from the plethora of participants over the past 2 decades who are to participate in such a massive performance? And then when those lists have been narrowed down, you have to find the singers who could actually perform on the 3 nights in questions. Fortunately, Arjen and his musical production manager Joost van den Broek started two years in advance, both in preparing the musicians and the production. The result is an absolutely fantastic “debut” live recording that not only sounds phenomenal, but surpasses The Theater Equation in terms of visual quality and musical execution. This has been released in 2CD audio, 3LP vinyl, 2DVD and Blu-ray video formats. The deluxe version earbook contains the 2 audio CDs, the 2DVDs and the Blu-ray, plus bios of all of the participants (written by Arjen himself) and lots of extra photos. The Performance It is nothing short of phenomenal. First off, Ayreon is really now a band, fully capable of a highly cohesive and engaging live performance. This was established with The Theater Equation, and most of those musicians have returned here (minus the Epic Rock Choir) to solidify, and expand upon, that foundation. Warby anchors with the drums, but is now augmented by percussionist Rob Snijders (Gentle Storm/Ayreon - The Dream Sequencer), and Johan van Stratum rounds out the rhythm section on bass. The dual guitars of Coenen and Duijsens have a much more crushing presence as they rip through these 28 songs. Van den Broek is actually performing on keyboards this time around because Arjen wanted the best, and his wall of keyboard diversity is a center point of the Ayreon sound. The trio of Mathot (violin), Peterse (cello) and Goesens (winds) returns to enliven the music and add their dynamic virtuosity to the mix. Marcela Bovio, Irene Jansen and newbie Lisette van den Burg provide back-up vocals - essentially 3 "lead-quality" vocalists. Integrate this group with these fantastic "guest" vocalists and you have one of the most striking collections of musical performers ever assembled on one stage. Forget debating the song selection. Fans could argue on what truly represents the “best of” Ayreon for as long as the Forever exist. The set list represents what Arjen and Joost felt would be the songs with the biggest dynamic impact on stage, and in that regard I think they selected well. They chose songs with a wide dynamic range, since that is what this band is all about. So you have these intimate moments, “Valley of the Queens, ” “Comatose” and “And The Druids Turned To Stone, ” juxtaposed with epic songs like “The Theory Of Everything, ” “Star of Sirrah” (amazing guitar solo by Coenen) and “The Castle Hall. ” And everything in between with the folksier songs like “River Of Time” and “Loser. ” While some songs retain the original singers, many songs have been rearranged slightly to accommodate different singers. For instance, it is cool to hear Floor Jansen (Nightwish) sing “Merlin’s Will” … or to hear Tommy Karevik (Kamelot) sing Dickenson’s song “Into The Black Hole. ” Mike Mills functions as the narrator (some humorous moments here) in addition to singing some of his material (“Loser” and “Everybody Dies”). The result of all of this is a nicely refreshing, yet familiar, vibe and sound to these tunes. Even Ed Warby gets a vocal part on “Love, ” so that is a nice nugget to discover. The biggest vocal surprise to me is Maggy Luyten (who enjoyed a relatively minor role on 0101). She plays a much greater role on this performance, even going up against the unflappable Damian Wilson on Star One’s “Intergalactic Space Crusaders. ” Her Janis Joplin-soaked voice provides nice contrast to the other more operatic lady singers in the ensemble. And speaking of Star One, bassist Peter Vink makes his presence known once again on the same track. It is great to have the lesser-known (but equally talented) Ed Reekers, Robert Soeterboek and Jonas Renkse intertwined alongside giants (and Ayreon staples) like Hansi Kursch, Marco Hietala, Tommy Karevik and Damian Wilson. Of the newer to Ayreon singers, the powerful John Jaycee Cuijpers is spectacular - he sounds like a Dutch version of Ronnie James Dio! Anneke and Floor return with vital performances as well, perhaps their trio version (with Marcela) of "Valley Of The Queens" tops them all. Overall, though, there are just too many remarkable moments to encapsulate in one review. The Blu-ray/DVDs As much as Ayreon has always been about the aural experience, I would have to say that this time around the videos steal the show. The Blu-ray contains the entire performance (pick from 2. 0 PCM stereo or DTS-MA 5. 1 surround), plus the near 90 minute documentary and the auditions. The DVDs split things up with the performance on DVD1 (DD 5. 1 or 2. 0) and the bonus features on DVD2 (DD 2. 0). One of the criticisms/critiques of The Theater Equation was the video quality. The performances were fantastic, but there was a lack of clarity to the video, with some complaining about poorly focused shots and limited camera angles. It was obvious that Arjen had some budget constraints with that release – still testing the “live” waters, so to speak. Apparently the budget was unfettered for Universe – the video quality is spectacular and the images more steady, less evasive and more expansive. For instance, we have a much better perspective on drummer Ed Warby this time around. I also notice there is no audio/video lag this time. The lighting and effects are also much more impressive. It is obvious that a lot of time and prep went into the artistic images and videos – displayed on a huge 3-story screen – which accompany the music. I love how the singers names are introduced on the screen when they first appear, and how the original album covers are featured throughout as well. The sound quality in surround is really, really good and may even surpass the vinyl recording. During “The Two Gates” (on the video only) Irene Jansen introduces the band, which is totally cool. And, not only does Arjen make a cameo appearance on guitar this time, he gives a “speech” and discusses inspirations and thoughts on the performance and what went on behind the scenes to make it all come to fruition. Again his speech is only on the video portion and not the audio discs. There is less emphasis on the uniforms and costumes – each player/singer given their own choice on what to wear – so the whole thing has more of a laid-back rock show feel rather than a theatrical vibe (The Theater Equation). I have always loved the Arjen documentaries which have accompanied his releases throughout the years because I love hearing about the “why” and “how. ” This one is no exception. Hosted by Arjen and Joost, this nearly 90 minute feature sequences the events that led up to the final performances. The biggest takeaway from my viewpoint: every artist involved was absolutely thrilled to be a part of this experience and in every way put forth their best performance. You might be surprised to know that the “band” practiced well over a year in advance. There is plenty of great humor as always in these segments. The CDs/Vinyl The 3 LPs are pressed in gold (limited to 500) and black (180gm), and they come housed in a beautiful (gold-embossed cover) triple-gatefold layout with 6 sides of music. The narrations (Mills) have been included, but Irene Jansen’s band intro during “The Two Gates” and Arjen’s “speech” have been excluded from the audio recordings (both CDs and vinyl) due to obvious space restraints. The vinyl has a nice warm sound, not nearly as brilliant as the 5. 1 BD mix, but the sound surface is very clean and the volume can be boosted to high levels without much distortion. Likewise, these discs sound good at low volume. I have very little surface noise with my set (gold). Only one out of the 3 of my inner sleeves was lined with anti-scratch/anti-static, but this is minor indeed. I do like that the vinyl packaging differs from the earbook in that there are mostly pictures of the band members on the inside of the jackets and limited credits. I don’t think the CDs sound overly compressed, but they are for me the least favorite of the different media formats in terms of sound. The CD booklet contains the same pictures/credits as the vinyl but in slightly different layout. Finally, there are no lyrics included with any of the formats, including the earbook (see below). The Earbook Many bands are releasing this kind of product these days, but Arjen and Steven Wilson have been doing it the longest and doing it the best (in my opinion) within the prog arena. This one is a 48-page hardbound book with a beautiful cover, but the gold lettering here is flat in contrast to the embossed/raised gold lettering on the vinyl cover. Also, the vinyl cover texture is glossy while the book is somewhat matte. There are 10 double-page, full width stage shots from different songs, and then the “in-between” pages feature every artist with smaller photos and commentary by Arjen. I like how this is presented in chronological order in synchrony with the set list, so the book is a great companion to watching the show (or just listening to the audio discs). In addition to the credits, there are 6 pages included with all the “back-stage” shots of the performers. My only complaint about the book is the disc storage compartments, which are the slip-in style which over time can tear more easily and which present some puckering of the linings on the insides of the covers. It’s a minor criticism, but I prefer the thicker covers with circle “cut-outs” with a center mount to hold the disc in place like Inside Out and other labels use. I believe the earbook is only available from the EU and is limited to 1500 copies. Overall, Universe is a once in a lifetime experience for Ayreon fans. Whether or not you experienced the original live show, this recording should be a “must have” item in any format. I must say, though, that I am left with the impression from all of the participants involved that Ayreon live, rather than a mere phenomenon, is now an entity likely to spawn further live performances. Fans can only hope, especially here in North America, that Ayreon live will grow and metastasize.
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