December 10, 2006

Music DVD Review: Joe Satriani LIVE!

Joe Satriani is an absolutely amazing talent. He is more than just speed and riffs, there is a lot of emotion in his playing. This is never more apparent than when you put him in the live setting. His studio recordings are fantastic, make no mistake about that, but the live setting is where the emotion really comes out. Ask just about any performer and they are sure to tell you that being onstage in front of a live audience is what it is all about. I gurantee that the live performance has much more emotion seep into the playing, and this show is proof of that.

The show starts in darkness, a few blue lights shine out into the crowd. From the darkness on the stage, you begin to hear notes, the opening strains of "Flying in a Blue Dream" emanate from the black. The lights slowly come up revealing Joe Satriani, black shirt, sunglasses, bald head and all, standing alongside his band members. So begins a two plus hour journey into the world of Satch.

When given a choice between a live CD and a live DVD, I more often than not tend towards the DVD. Sure, the CD can go more places with you, and perhaps let yourself better imagine actually being there in the crowd. However, I prefer the actual sights of the show to accompany the sound. Instead of just picturing it, I like to see the performance, see the crowd reactions, see what kind of presence the band has onstage, and in the case of guys like Satch, I like to be able to see them play. There are few words that can describe the joys of watching someone who knows their way around their instrument ply their craft. This performane gives a great look into Satch and his playing. Watching his fingers fly over the notes, lingering occasionally for emphasis, is a sight to behold.

The stage is sparsely setup. Satriani is not about stage theatrics, he lets his music handle that for him. You get the four musicians, their equipment, and a modest light show, what else do you need? This isn't Slipknot or Rob Zombie who bring a strong visual element along with their music. There is nothing wrong with that, just different artists have different approaches to their image.

Watching this DVD you can see that wonderful blend of technical skill and emotional injection play across the music. The setlist is heavily weighted towards his recent Super Colossal, but does offer a mix of his earlier favorites. This is not really a career spanning set, and that is sure to turn some people away, especially if you are not as fond of Super Colossal. Still, watching this is fantastic, the old alongside the new, all displaying the work of one of the best guitarists around.

Audio. There are two flavors here, Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM Stereo. I was happy to see the PCM track, that is my preferred format for live concerts. I always feel the PCM gives the music the best sound, so that is the track I listened to here. I was not disappointed, the track is crisp, clear, and just sounds fantastic.

Video. The concert is presented in a widescreen ratio of 1.85:1 and looks pretty good. Of course, it is not a very taxing show to transfer, but it deals with the blacks and the flashing lights well, I was not distracted by any video issues.

Extras. Plenty of extras adorn this two disk set.
  • In the Studio. This takes you inside the studio during the Super Colossal sessions, specifically during the creation of "Crowd Chant."
  • Tour Rehearsal. Go inside the studio while the band gets ready to embark on the Super Colossal world tour.
  • Last Night of the US Tour. This is Satch and the guys on the last night, preparing to go onstage, and looking forward to what specials they had in store, including a jam with Eric Johnson.
  • Music Video. This is a clip created for the song "Super Colossal." It's pretty good too, featuring Satch as an animated giant playing a guitar, a colossus if you will.
  • Flying in a Blue Dream: Joe Satriani India Tour, May 2005. This runs about 45 minutes, making it the longest running of the extras, and features footage of Joe onstage, as well as with his fans, and even more footage of his fans and children in a class learning to play. It is a very nice extra, probably the best of the bunch.
  • Podcasts. This is a group of 4 podcasts that Satch and the crew made during the European leg of the tour. Performances, and goofiness abound.

Bottomline. This is something that anyone who likes Satch, or instrumental rock should be checking out. Satch's performance is spot on, and is a lot of fun to watch. The extras round it out into a nice set.



Post a Comment