Harem Scarem: Live At The Phoenix review

Canadian melodic rock band Harem Scarem, are quite an enigma. Despite having recorded some of the most infectious (please pardon the term) hairband anthems of their time, they remain a bit of a mystery. That is outside of the die-hards that didn’t give up on the genre when the 90’s hit and know very well it is still alive and kicking outside of the USA, where they are regarded as legends. Their newest double live cd/dvd/bluray combo Live At The Phoenix on Frontiers Records was recorded on a magical evening at the Phoenix Concert Hall in the Band’s hometown of Toronto Canada and contains a staggering 20 tracks that span the band’s 25 year career. Those lucky enough to already know Harem Scarem, are fully aware that the band’s monumental self-titled debut and their triumphant 2nd album Mood Swings are highly regarded as two of the best AOR albums ever recorded. So it’s no surprise that the bulk of the material on Live At The Phoenix is pulled from those two classic albums. To their credit, the melodic hooks and glorious harmonies of lead singer and guitarist Harry Hess & lead guitarist Pete Lesperance on classics like “Hard to Love,” “Saviors Never Cry,” “Distant Memory,” “Slowly Slipping Away,” “No Justice” and “Change Comes Around” have never sounded better and drummer Darren Smith’s raspy vocals breathe new life into “Sentimental Blvd.” The rest of their stunning set is rounded out by deeper melodic gems taken from various periods of their material over the years such as “Killing Me,” “So Blind,” “Human Nature” and “Dagger,” which is one of the heaviest in the band’s arsenal, but what really makes this live set so exciting are the 5 new songs taken from the band’s 13th studio album, the aptly titled Thirteen, that do not appear on any of the band’s 3 previous dvds or live recordings. Newer cuts like “Garden Of Eden,” “The Midnight Hours,” “Troubled Times,” “Saints & Sinners” and “All I Need,” which features a guest appearance by guitarist and longtime friend of the band Mike Vassos from their opening act Honor First, are being hailed by fans and critics alike as the band’s best material since Harem Scarem or Mood Swings and are being welcomed by them with open arms and raised voices. Here’s the bottom line. Had their first two albums come out in 81’ & 83’ instead of 91’ and 93’ you would have been singing their praise right alongside legends like Def Leppard and Motley Crue to this day. 9 out of 10 Eric Hunker