Les Claypool is an interesting character. He is the kind of guy that must be fun to hang around with; the stories he could probably tell. He is one of the few guys that could bring the rock crowd and the jam crowd together under one roof. That in itself is something to be proud of, well, that and being one of the greatest bassplayes to walk the Earth.
This DVD chronicles the 2006 tour in support of his latest solo album, Of Whales and Woe. It's an excellent live album, even if I only recognize one song from the lot, watching him play is enough to keep me entertained. Yes, the music is good, I just need to get more of his non-Primus material.
More than just a concert DVD, this is a fan chronicled view of the tour, a tour that I was able to attend and witness in person. Of course, they were not recording that night, but it doesn't matter, it was incredible watching this man work the bass live, not to mention the other players he had with him.
At a number of shows on the tour, groups of fans were supplied with DV cams and were given free reign to film the show. The resulting footage was combined with a combination of fan audio recordings and soundboard recordings. All of that audio and video footage was compiled into one tour encompassing video. No, it is not all one show. It spans a number of shows from Austin to New York and a few places in between. The end result being the first ever Les Claypool solo concert DVD, and the experience is amazing.
The performance is electric, and is very much jam oriented, with each song taking on a life separate from the studio versions, or, in most cases, what I expect the studio version to sound like. Each of the five musicians onstage getting ample time to step to the front and solo. While all of the them add some gorgeous work, the centerpiece has to be Les Claypool. What can I say other than he makes it look so easy. He sounds so good and is just electric to watch.
I will say that if you are a fan of structured songs, or don't care for jams, this may not be the disk for you, as everything is free flowing, a jazz-funk-fusion jam, a collaboration of like minded musicians out to do something a little different. A little different, yes, that is a good description of what Les has done throughout his career. None of his numerous projects has been alike, all distinctly Claypool, but he seeks out opportunities to try something new and expand what he can do, and this DVD is a good example. The music rocks, but it is not your typical rock. How often do you see a rock act incorporate sitar, theremin, and vibraphone? Much less to such great effect?
Throughout the show, I could scarcely understand Les' voice, but I found myself not much caring, I was too preoccupied with the music. It has a solid groove, technical precision, jam band openness, and was just spot on. If you like Claypool, you need this disk. The fan filming lends an intimate feel and does a great job at capturing the energy of a Claypool show.
As for the way the footage was compiled, it is definitely unique. It is a different way of shooting, gets fans even more involved, and has a different effect than having professional cameramen and a concert director. Rather than seeing what the director wants you to see, you see what the fans were watching. Definitely a different point of view, and their footage is impressive, nicely framed, and captured nice angles and moments. The audio is also very good. It is a PCM stereo track and is crisp, clear, and does justice to the multilayered sounds. Extras are limited to a collection of Claypool crowd banter and some bass solos, included is an amusing cut where a "fan" thew a half can of beer at Les, an idiotic move that the "fan" pays for.
Bottomline. This is a great disk, one of the better concert disks I have seen lately, even with my lack of familiarity with much of the material, the quality of music, energy, and plethora of masks, hats, and wigs, more than made up for it. I just love watching this guy play. I am sure that it doesn't hurt that I saw this tour, and this is like a great memento of it, even if I wasn't at these filmings. Though, I am sad not to have "Whamola" included.
Up on the Roof
Of Whales and Woe
Long in the Tooth
Wernon the Company Man
The Big Eyeball in the Sky
Running the Gauntlet
American Life/Iowan Gal