I was lucky enough to see Mystery at The Borderline in London in September 2014. The tour was in support of their fifth studio album The World is a Game; Benoît David had left in March, to be replaced by Jean Pageau and the band had begun writing Delusion Rain which they released in November 2015. Support that night was provided by the excellent DeeExpus who performed an engaging, frenetic and hugely impressive set which was more than worthy of being a headline act in its own right.
However, when Mystery took to the stage, the transformation in atmosphere was remarkable. There was a calm assuredness accompanied by a confident, statesmanlike poise and presence. The music was electric, fresh, edgy and exuding a polished, elegant power and exciting, bold energy which was both enthralling as well as scintillating. It was a commanding performance, occasionally a little rough around the edges, which left little doubt that here was a band who were having fun, who fundamentally believed in the quality of the music they were creating and who shared a common vision for the directions in which they wanted to go next.
Fast forward two years and Mystery take to the stage again at the ProgDreams V Festival in the Boerderij Cultuurpodium, Zoetermeer, Netherlands. Second Home is the engrossing and thoroughly riveting live recording of the set performed that night and hearing it quickly takes me back once more to that happy night at The Borderline. The crisp and detailed production captures with a sparkling clarity the thrilling musicianship and passionate creativity which pulses and shines so brightly from start to finish. Mystery are a band who are clearly still having fun. What this release demonstrates, beyond the shadow of a doubt, is their star continues to ascend – rightfully so – built on a spirited yet relaxed style which digs deep and allows their music to flow with a natural expression and instinctive momentum. The music is persuasive, compelling and dynamic, the soundstage immediate, arresting, enticingly dramatic. There is now a much greater sense of conviction which delivers an irresistible performance which is as accomplished as it is rousing. Although largely built around the excellent Delusion Rain, the set-list provides a fascinating and intriguing insight into a back catalogue which reaches across 21 years and encompasses six studio albums. Songs are thoughtfully selected from just about all of them to form an imaginative programme full of pace and presence, whilst showcasing the staggering diversity of a band who are equally at home playing extended ballads lasting in excess of 10 minutes or shorter, more succinct songs which weave elegant stories and narrative moments.
Exuberant, foot-stomping rock and roll rhythms stand shoulder to shoulder with songs that are emotionally charged and delicately subtle, the music exposing a technical virtuosity and exuding a skilful panache. At its heart is the gradually developing relationship and growing understanding between the vocal prowess of Pageau and the consummate artistry of St-Père on guitar. The success of the set trades off the often mesmerising interplay between them, Pageau a superb lead and St-Père the perfect foil.
But they are only enabled to do this by virtue of the happily inventive playing by the other members of the band who create the platform and form the cradle which allow it to happen. Goyette’s drumming and Fournier’s bass work form a discerning and provocative partnership that allows the keys of Dupuis and the interjections of Moineau to weave innovative threads that embrace the soundstage and create the tipping point in balancing the contribution of the others. It’s a magical formula which the band grasp and accept throughout the concert.
Fans of Mystery will find Second Home a welcome revelation, particularly when compared with Live from the Netherlands, released in 2014. The band have come a long way, literally as well as metaphorically. This is a wonderful recording of a great night which demonstrates the increasing creative excellence of a band who are taking massive musical strides forward and who have the confidence to pursue the vision they hold for where they want to be. I wish I had been there, but alas I was not: for now this recording will continue to whet my appetite until the next time they tour in the UK again.
1. Delusion Rain (10.23)
2. Travel to the Night (10.21)
3. If You See Her (5.55)
4. Another Day (18.24)
5. Wall Street King (6.35)
6. Pride (8.19)
7. The Last Glass of Wine (6.46)
8. Shadow of the Lake (6.30)
9. Dear Someone (12.42)
10,Through Different Eyes (22.17)
11.The Preacher’s Fall (4.05)
12. Superstar (8.52)
13. Till the Truth Comes Out (8.59)
14. The Sailor and the Mermaid (5.26)
Benoît Dupuis – keyboards
François Fournier – bass
Jean-Sébastien Goyette – drums
Sylvain Moineau – guitar
Jean Pageau – vocals
Michel St-Père -guitar
Live recording from ProgDreams V Festival, April 3rd, 2016, Zoetermeer, Netherlands.
DVD – Unicorn Digital – UNCDVD-005 (1/8/2017)
2xCD – Unicorn Digital – UNCR-5115 (1/9/2017)
Band Home Page: https://www.therealmystery.com/
This review originally appeared for The Progressive Aspect