Sound — 8
This release is from the live show that took place at the Rome Olympic Stadium in mid-2013. The concert was recorded with over 100 lines of multi-track audio, which resulted in some of the highest quality audio you're going to find from a live performance. Thirteen tracks from the show were used on the CD, though the DVD contains additional tracks and material from the show. The concert opens up with "Supremacy," which is executed to near perfection, with the vocal processing used being just a little bit off or harsh, though it didn't really hurt my feelings regarding the track. The second track on the concert is "Panic Station," with the intro portion of the song, and especially the bass, really coming across powerfully. Matt goes to great exertions on this track trying to pull off vocal tricks pulled off in the studio in the live environment, and it works out okay. "Resistance" is up next, and again I find myself fascinated in the great quality of these live performances, especially on songs that don't seem to necessary lend themselves to live performance. The audio of the audience is mixed in at the right volumes to help capture the excitement of the live performance without taking away from the song. "Hysteria" is up next, and despite something weird going on briefly with the audio at the beginning of the track it turned out to be one of the standout performances from the concert for me. On "Animals" I was mostly just surprised at how great of a live tone Matt was getting for the guitar work on this track. "Knights of Cydonia," which was turned into an epic track in this live performance – Matt and the audience sang the melody during much of this track - was definitely on my list of favorite tracks from the concert. "Explorers" is a very solid performance both instrumentally and vocally. "Follow Me" is up next and this is about the place in listening to the CD that I started to think a lot about Queen, and came to the conclusion that I was drawing subconscious comparisons between the vocal performances of Freddie Mercury and Matt Bellamy during their live performances. "Madness" is up next, and this is another track where I was surprised at how well this track worked in a live performance. "Guiding Light" was up next, and listening to the drums in the intro of this track really lets you see the benefit in the way this concert was recorded using so many lines of multi-track audio, recording redundantly. "Supermassive Black Hole" is next up and again, this is just a powerful performance. I can definitely see myself preferring this live version over the studio version sometimes. "Uprising" is definitely a strong performance as well. "Starlight" starts out with some of the very limited crowd interaction that Matt has on the CD with him addressing the crowd "put your hands together" and then the song begins. The live album closes out with "Starlight," which is a good track for the closing, and as most of the rest of this live performance is almost flawless.
Lyrics — 8
Matt Bellamy did an exceptional job on the live performance of his vocals, and I found myself in a few moments preferring the live delivery over the studio delivery because he seemed to really be into the performance in a way you can't get into a studio recording. Something I personally look for in a live recording is the nature of the audience participation and how the band interacts with the audience. While Matt did speak briefly and very occasionally to the audience, it was still very minimal and made it seem like there was a definite gulf between the band and the fans. I would almost prefer they erred on the opposite side, and have too much interaction with the fans vs. too little. That is part of why people buy live concerts. Regardless of my criticism, Matt's vocal performance is pretty much beyond reproach.
Overall Impression — 8
While I reviewed the CD, I did watch some excerpts from the actual video and I definitely feel like the DVD is a better format for this release. The material on the DVD that was cut from the CD was often the missing links between the band and the fans at the show and could have made the concert much more enjoyable for me, personally. With that being said, I found myself being impressed throughout much of the concert at the level of performance during the concert, especially on some of the band's tracks that I felt don't necessarily lend themselves well to live performance. My favorite performances from the concert would have to be "Hysteria," "Knights of Cydonia," "Supermassive Black Hole" and "Panic Station." Again, a lot of the visual components are lost on the CD, and I definitely would recommend buying the DVD for the full impact. At the end of the day this live album just makes me that much more excited to hear the band's next studio release which will have a more direct sound with less keyboards and synths, according to interviews with the band.