Review Summary: Live In Brooklyn reinforces the power of Phish's live shows.
Phish was/is one of the most influential and highest selling acts in the music business. Much of their allure was based around their live concerts, like most Jam Bands. Their fans spout off dates like other band's fans say albums. Their extended improvisations and "jamming" is one of the biggest reasons that Phish has enjoyed so much success; and this DVD proves that without a doubt.
*Note1: This review is split into two parts, the actual music (part II) (Jamming, tightness, overall quality of musicianship, etc...), and the visual performance (part I)(camera angles, stage presence, etc...).
*Note2: Words in Itallics are the song(s) that demonstrate what the previous statement was talking about. EX. Trey had a great solo. Sample In A Jar
The Visual Show
As any music fan will tell you, there is a definite difference between listening to a band through headphones and watching them perform. Phish's popularity was gained almost exclusively through live concerts. All of the members have undeniable stage presence. Mike and Trey rock their socks off by jumping in unison (on some nights on trampoline), John makes you ***ing know he's there, and Page is just a badass.
At points it's hard to distinguish Mike (bass) in the mix, so to see him climbing around the fretboard is really interesting and entertaining. Free, Weekapaug Groove Same with John (drums), it can be a bit tricky to make out all of the cymbal crashes and fills he plays unless you can visually see him. The Curtain WIth Trey (guitar) and Page (keyboards) are generally pretty easy in terms of making out what they're playing, but their stage presence is absolutely unmatched. Suzy Greenberg, Sample In A Jar This DVD also shows how the bands feed off of each other so well. They'll look at each other and start jamming or if you will dueling each other.
The camera angles in this movie (if you want to call it that) are stellar. The shots range everywhere from Trey's fretboard, to fans sucking bowls in the audience. The light show is also fantastic; it's much better seen towards the end of the first set and the entire second (nighttime). It is really neat to see how it reflects the music. And not just during the actual songs, they are fantastic during the improv parts as well. Suzy Greenberg, Mike's Song. Even non musicians can will enjoy watching the footage showing the technical aspect of the solos. When I saw that, I mean that it's entertaining to watch just Trey's guitar or just Page's hands during solos, even when you have no idea musically what they are doing.
The only real negative I can say about the visuals is that sometimes they can hinder the musical performance. At times I've found myself focusing on say the lights, and then the music seems to fade into the background. Now this isn't necessarily horrible, but it can get annoying having to rewind because you started to refocus halfway through a sick jam. Also, does anyone really care if Trey or Mike are screwing with their pedals when they are silent and another band member is soloing?
Now the visuals are very entertaining, but lets not forget about the main purpose of the DVD, LIVE PHISH! They are for the most part at their peak during live shows. The extended soloing and live jamming are the staples of Phish concerts. Fans will ask more often if you listened heard their show from xxxx/xx/xx than if you've heard Hoist, or Billy Breathes.
This show took place on the opening night of their final tour; June 17th, 2004. Fresh after releasing Undermind, Phish was ready to embark on their farewell tour, if you will. The energy of this show (especially the second set) is incredibly high (Blow or LSD anyone?), unlike some Phish shows where they are all ***ed up on Opiates, this set is really high paced and tight.
Like mentioned earlier, the band members really feed off of each other. In this show especially, they seem to really rely on each other, almost like they were jamming food. :) But in all seriousness, this was a really well played show. The set list, in my opinion, was pretty good. Free, Maze, Axilla I, The Curtain With, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, and the whole Mike's Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove sequence is just amazing.
The Divided Sky deserves its own paragraph, due to the sheer awesomeness of it. This is by far my favorite version of the song, it's dripping with authenticity and emotion. About 6 or so minutes in the band goes completely silent, and all that is audible is the fans screaming their balls off. Phish just stands there like *** yeah, we're badasses and we know it. This being the one encore for the night, they really jam it out. Trey Anastasio does amazing things with his guitar on this track that astound me to this day.
The negatives I'd say about the audio are really only in what they didn't play. I was hoping for them to branch out into slower jams and more epic solos, but sadly this was only hinted at throughout the concert; as about 90% of the music was fast to medium paced. Another thing I would have loved would have been a vocal jam (though relatively unrealistic), or a barbershop quartet (Hello My Baby). Now that would've been a ***ing DVD right there.
The Other Section
Overall this DVD is a really good buy. The extras are wonderful, they include the soundcheck from earlier in the day, and three tracks that were played the following night. All of which sound great, and are neat extras that mesh perfectly with the rest of the DVD. There is also some backstage footage of Trey playing a few songs on his guitar by himself, and practicing a few sweeps and fills on his guitar. I give this a 4/5, it's a great DVD with a breathtaking performance, but the negatives I mentioned stop it from reaching the 4.5/5 that was NYE '95, and obviously the classic rating of 5/5.