TRIUMPH – Live At The Us Festival


TML Entertainment, Inc.
Release Date: September 23, 2003

User Review
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It’s hard to believe that over 20 years have gone by since that sweltering Memorial Day weekend in Southern California hosted what will likely remain the single biggest day for Heavy Metal in the history of the genre. On May 29th, 1983, the US Festival was graced with Heavy Metal Sunday…an event that brought in a crowd upwards of a half million people. The day was completely filled with the heavy hitters of Heavy Metal: Ozzy Osbourne, Van Halen, and Judas Priest, to name a few, and another greatly respected band of that time – Triumph.

To celebrate the anniversary of their involvement in this historic event, Triumph has released their US Festival set on both DVD and CD. Cutting to the chase, if you like live recordings, the CD version of Triumph’s US Festival concert is a true gem. The recorded sound quality of the show is nothing short of amazing, especially considering the band wasn’t even using most of their own equipment! Due to the constraints of time associated with a Festival setting, Triumph’s set list consisted of only 8 songs, 7 of them are songs that will be recognizable by both Metal and conventional rock fans alike. Since Triumph is no longer active as a band, to be “the definitive” live collection, a number of other Triumph classics like “Hold On,” “Say Goodbye,” “Fool For Your Love,” and “Follow Your Heart” would have to be included, but the set list is indeed filled with winners:

-Allied Forces
-Lay It On the Line
-Never Surrender
-Magic Power
-A World of Fantasy
-Rock & Roll Machine
-When the Lights Go Down
-Fight the Good Fight

The DVD version of the show is unique because of the massive sea of humanity in attendance, but as far as live shows go, especially Triumph shows, which conventionally include spectacular stage light sets, lasers, and pyrotechnics, this concert was below average. Since Triumph’s concert was scheduled during the day, stage lights and lasers were irrelevant, and pyrotechnics were virtually impossible to set up when bands were rolling on and off stage all day. Gil Moore, using someone else’s drum kit for the show, put forth a completely solid and tight performance. Mike Levine also came through clean and strong, but Rik Emmett’s guitar playing was not as sharp and crisp as it was during other times I’ve seen the band live. Normally, for example, the absolute highlight of a Triumph show is Emmett’s solo during “Rock & Roll Machine.” During the US Festival, his solo lacked direction and seemed confused – so much so, the DVD cuts to shots of the crowd walking into the Festival and dubs in an interview with a Law Enforcement Official who says his primary goal was to ensure his team prevents a riot from breaking out. Emmett’s below average performance, however, is still better than most guitarists in Rock ‘n’ Roll, and by no means taints the overall success of this concert. Amazingly, like the overall sound quality, the clarity of the images is very impressive considering video technology was generally antiquated compared to today’s digital standards.

As with most DVDs, Live at the US Festival contains its share of “bonus features.” In the case of this DVD, the bonus features contain the true highlights of this compilation. The bonus sections include “Inside the Rock & Roll Machine,” an interview in 2003 with Gil Moore and Mike Levine, and the “Spellbound” and “Follow Your Heart” promotional videos.

“Inside the Rock & Roll Machine” includes mini-documentaries about Triumph’s stage assembly, lasers and pyrotechnics used in the stage shows, the wizardry behind aspects of the live sound, solo dialogue with Rik Emmett in his private guitar studio, a couple cameo interviews with Ronnie James Dio and the Canadian Comedian — Eugene Levy, concert footage tidbits, and one-on-one “limousine” interviews with each band member. I’ve always been a Triumph fan, but watching this bonus section definitely gave me a greater appreciation for the Triumph Rock and Roll Machine, so to speak, and for the band’s intelligence and work ethic. As is usually the case, Triumph’s success didn’t happen by accident.

The 2003 interview with Gil Moore and Mike Levine focuses mainly on how their involvement in the US Festival came to fruition, and their impressions on the whole event. Again, their spoken words further endear themselves to their fans, and provide the viewer with a greater appreciation of the immense effort and inspiration that went into creating and pulling off the US Festival.

In sum, loyal Triumph fans are going to thoroughly enjoy both the DVD and CD versions of this US Festival performance. The DVD definitely has a cornucopia of solid “bonus” features that add insights into the band and will cause fans to come to appreciate Triumph all over again. For Metal fans thirsty to learn more about one of the forefathers of the Heavy Metal faith, this DVD also provides a good overview of a band who was able to keep it clean and keep it heavy at the same time. Triumph shows why they’re on the upper end of class acts, and refreshingly, that “good guys” don’t always finish last. Casual music fans, especially music fans of the 80’s who prefer live recordings, would probably be served well to steer towards the CD version instead. To each his own, but one thing is for certain…Triumph’s decision to release their US Festival performance was indeed the “right” decision. We can only hope Levine, Emmett, and Moore collectively make another “right” decision in the near term, bury whatever nameless hatchets still exist, and once again unite their triumphant Allied Forces!

Recording Quality: A
Overall Rating: B


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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