In July 1984, the otherworldly entourage of over fifty musicians of Urban Sax swarmed across the coastal town of Pori, Finland, to perform a historic concert at the Pori Jazz Festival. The masked musicians, veiled in space suits and fencing masks, arrived at the scene of the concert in the Central Pori Church by fire engines, forklifts and water buses from all over the town, followed by an ecstatic and bewildered crowd of festival-goers and amazed locals alike. For those present, the explosively apocalyptic spectacle, envisioned by the Urban Sax mastermind Gilbert Artman, completely subverted the conventional notions of what a concert can be, unfolding a total artwork.
The totality and intensity of Urban Sax can be felt on the live recording from the very first menacing sounds of saxophones overtaking the crowd noise. Urban Sax extends and exceeds the bounds of normal reciprocity of a concert by the sheer spontaneity of the crowd response and audience involvement in the spectacle, which gives a curious twist to this particular record: an outraged clergyman is heard ranting in the pulpit like a street preacher, while the saxophone players are being hoisted up in the dome.
The splendour of sound coupled with the haunting quality of the melodic thought of Gilbert Artman is what lifts Urban Sax in heights beyond the reach any hoist, however. It is the hypnotising beauty of their music that eventually makes Urban Sax such an enigmatic apparition among bands. At the same time, Live in Pori 1984 by Urban Sax is probably one of the the finest documents of a recorded culture shock, with repercussions being felt to this day.