Friday, May 27, 2005


Heroes and Villains Part 2

This is an extraordinarily well-produced concert set, I must admit I'm very impressed. Considering Brian's mental state at the beginning of rehearsals for this incredibly complex suite, the fact that this band nailed all of this complex music is doubly amazing. The performances are utterly incredible all the way around. The standouts, unsurprisingly, are Our Prayer, Heroes and Villains, Cabin Essence, Child Is The Father Of Man, Surf's Up, Mrs. O'Leary's Cow and Good Vibrations. The way this band pulls off reproducing some of the really wacky stuff like Workshop is mind-boggling. The vocals are top-notch. Darian Sahanaja did a fantastic job coordinating and arranging this music for this band, and surf music guru Jeffrey Foskett brings a great presence to this music. While there aren't enough closeups of the musicians' hands to make this a perfect DVD, from an image and sound perspective, it's a quantum leap from most others I've seen. The big problem of course is that Smile isn't for everyone, and this might be something you might want to watch once, but it simply demands to be seen, as an example of how to bring a legend to life.

One thing that was incredibly touching, you saw Brian break into a huge smile many, many times during the show. It's obvious that even though he was scared out of his wits, he was very pleased with the way this show came off and with the love and affection it received. The word that keeps coming to mind when I see him is "haunted", but I think this really did exorcise some of his demons.

Somewhat related, both Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy's sites are selling a DVD of their Yellow Matter Custard Beatles tribute, which I reviewed last year here and on Blogcritics. Although I had my quibbles about how some pieces were played (Portnoy was playing more like Carl Palmer than Ringo at times, plus Paul Gilbert's fretboard tapping had no business appearing in the set), I generally liked the set, it was eclectic enough to keep me happy (although woefully light on Revolver from my perspective). Neal Morse's site describes it as an "official bootleg", shot with two cameras and very good under the circumstances (I take it there's a bit of expectation management in that description), but then again, neo-prog isn't a high-budget area for music, so I wouldn't expect a huge investment in the production values. The Spock's Beard DVD had so-so video, however, it was definitely a great document. I'm not expecting wonders, but I think it'll be very cool to see how the band looked at work. The DVD can be ordered from Morse's Radiant Records or from Mike Portnoy.


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