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Music Review: Barenaked Ladies – Talk To The Hand: Live in Michigan

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I love live music and live albums. I think I've been pretty clear on that. I went on at some length about the flaws of R.E.M.'s live set, heaped praises and hosannas on a Tom Petty live DVD, and was pretty happy with the Manchester disc from Oasis' Lord Don't Slow Me Down.

Last week, I urged Tom Petty to release a CD version of the Gainesville show he released as part of the Runnin' Down a Dream DVD box set. It's now time for me to talk out of the other side of my mouth. This week, I'm going to tell you the DVD portion of Barenaked Ladies' Talk to the Hand: Live in Michigan is the more enjoyable part of this CD/DVD package.

Typically, I'm not much for live DVDs as I'm too lazy to trot the five feet from my couch to the DVD tower. I've bought a handful of them and they rarely get watched. Normally, I use my MacBook Pro to rip the audio feed from the DVD and listen to these DVDs on my iPod and bitch because a fullscale CD version wasn't made available. I don't have to do that with Talk to The Hand. Artists often release CD/DVDs packages and the DVD usually has more songs than the CD. BNL released this combo with identical programs on both discs.

Now that we've discussed the package in principle, let's talk about the music. BNL are a great live band. TheWifeToWhomI'mMarried and I have seen them five times and would gladly make that six if they ever return to our neck of the woods. The reason? Barenaked Ladies are live entertainers in addition to being a great band! The entertainment factor is more apparent on the DVD, particularly during "Angry People."

One of my favorite things about Barenaked Ladies is their harmonies. This is a band with five guys who can sing. Four of the five have sang lead vocal on at least one track at some point in the band's career. The band's drummer, Tyler Stewart, has never sang lead but contributes backing vocals on a number of the songs. Harmony is missing in a lot of today's rock music. Instead of finding five guys who can sing, lead vocalists overdub themselves and then sing to backing tracks in concert. That's not the BNL way. These guys all sing on record and then take the songs on the road and sing the hell out of them there, too.

The 15 songs on the CD and DVD are all from the same show, but this isn't the full show and that's the only real downside to this set. The band sounds great and the crowd is having such a good time that I would have paid more to have it all. What's here is great and well worth your time and money. The fun just ends a little too soon.

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