Now firstly I’ll claim to be slightly biased in favor of Babylon A.D. Actually, truth be told, I’m more than biased so reviewing this potentially presents a little conundrum; if it’s poor what do I say? Thankfully, as good sense would dictate, it’s not and it’s indeed a little corker. For those that have seen B.A.D recently, particularly at Firefest, ‘Live @ XXV’ is essentially extremely similar to the set the guys delivered that night.
Opening with the cult classic ‘Back In Babylon’ and veering straight into ‘Hammer Swings Down’ is a master-stroke. The gritty live mix lends a sense of “real” to proceedings; Jamey Pacheco’s drum sound is a little “thin” at times but in essence it is a live album in its real format; not recorded in the studio and no crowd noise added, unlike some others. Crowd favorite ‘Sinking In The Sand’ makes a welcome appearance and when ‘Bang Go The Bells’ erupts, quickly followed by ‘Maryanne’ and the aggressive ‘Bad Blood’, you realize just how good these guys are.
In an age where many bands are unable to live up to their original legacy, B.A.D have no such problems. Ron Freschi and Danny De La Rosa are mean players and the rhythm section of Pacheco and Ireland’s own Robb Reid on bass are as solid a bottom end as you are liable to hear anywhere. Derek Davis sounds not only note perfect, but every bit as good as he did back in the day, nailing ‘Desperate’ with consummate ease. The inclusion of ‘Kid Goes Wild’ (which featured in the ‘Robocop’ soundtrack) brings proceedings to a close with De La Rosa nailing the solo and the crowd obviously getting hugely into proceedings.
The second of the two encores begins with a cover of UFO’s ‘Lights Out’; I always wonder why bands with so much original material to hand tend to do this, but credit where it’s due, It’s a rather stonking version. Davis again proves he has the pipes to challenge anything vocally whilst the twin guitar assault absolutely slays all before it.
Add Babylon A.D. to the small list of bands from back in the day that can still do it all musically and vocally and sound just like they did twenty-five years ago. If you saw them at Firefest then you know what to expect. If you didn’t, this is as close to what you missed as you are likely to hear. It’s marvelous from start to finish, containing a bucket load of bona fide hits and deserving a place in anyone’s collection, especially if you are a fan of REAL live albums.
Now if only they could be persuaded to deliver a new studio album.
-Kieran Dargan, Fireworks Magazine