Axel Rudi Pell – XXX Anniversary Live (Steamhammer/SPV)

Wednesday, 5th June 2019
Rating: 7/10

Celebrating thirty years as a solo artist, guitarist Axel Rudi Pell continues his love of Rainbow/Deep Purple-esque melodic hard rock/metal in this double album XXX Anniversary Live. The recordings come from his last tour including shows in Bochum and Budapest, encompassing sixteen tracks and nearly two hours of music and performances. There’s little doubt that Axel and his band continue to parade their songs in an entertaining fashion for European audiences far and wide – but the question remains, is there enough of a difference maker to separate this from his numerous other live outing in his discography?

Vocalist Johnny Gioeli has been with Axel since Oceans of Time in 1998, and it’s obvious the musicians onstage as well as audiences at the shows appreciate his enthusiasm and delivery, be it material that he recorded for “The Wild and the Young” and “Long Live Rock” as well as older songs such as Black Moon Pyramid favorite “Fool Fool” and “Warrior”. You know going in that Axel will gain his share of bluesy, shredding lead break spotlights, but he’s also cognizant of sharing that musicianship attention with his bandmates – as drummer Bobby Rondinelli delivers a solo during “Mystica” and keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg showcases his finger dexterity and adventure sounds for the opening sequence to “Game of Sins/ Tower of Babylon” extended 16-minute plus medley. As far as what to expect for a setlist – it’s always a mixture of up-tempo anthems and epic ballads, concentrating heavily on their last studio album Knights Call with five tracks (beyond “The Medieval Overture” recorded intro that starts the night off). You’ll tend to get extended instrumental sections and audience singalong encouragement courtesy of Johnny’s buoyant personality (the work talk for “Edge of the World” priceless).

In the end though, XXX Anniversary Live probably serves best for the ardent, have to own everything Axel Rudi Pell consumer – the casual person looking to bring themselves up to speed should dig into The Masquerade Ball or Circle of the Oath for two of the best studio albums with Johnny and Axel together. Don’t worry – there’s plans in the works for the next studio album to drop in the spring of 2020, as time does not stand still for the German Blackmore.

Axel Rudi Pell official website