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Top Ten Concert DVDs of 2008

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There were plenty of great concert DVDs released in 2008, and many of them I just haven't had a chance to review yet. David Gilmour's Live At Gdansk is missing from my list since it is essentially the same show that I reviewed on last year's Remember That Night DVD, which made the top of my 2007 list. Wondering where the Rolling Stones' Shine A Light DVD is? Just hasn't really compelled me to buy it yet. Maybe it's because I am still making my way through all 900 hours of The Biggest Bang. Iron Maiden's Live After Death and Thin Lizzy's Live And Dangerous finally got their due transfers to DVD in 2008, but I chose to limit this list to previously unreleased material. The Who's Live At Kilburn is an essential addition to any Who fan's collection, for historical reasons alone, but it was not exactly the band's finest hour. Now let's get to who did make the cut:

1. Genesis – When In Rome: Back in 2005, the quintessential Genesis lineup of Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, and Phil Collins met to discuss performing a limited run of live shows that would feature The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. The plan died soon after it was hatched, thanks to some Peter Gabriel scheduling conflicts. Newsflash, Peter – most people would rather see you fronting Genesis again, than catch another one of your stupid solo tours. Okay, I love solo Peter Gabriel as much as anybody, but come on, my man! The clock is ticking. This didn't stop the And Then There Were Three lineup of Collins, Rutherford, and Banks however, who after a 10-year hiatus decided that "you know, maybe we all could use another bazillion dollars", and then embarked on the most extravagant Genesis tour to date. Filmed in front of an enormous crowd of nearly 500,000 people at Rome's Circo Massimo, When In Rome brilliantly captures this amazing tour in all its glory. And they finally did some old-school Genesis songs justice too.

2. Rush – Snakes & Arrows Live: Oh brother, not another Rush DVD you say? Well, I say BRING IT ON! Rush followed up their two-year Snakes & Arrows tour with their finest concert DVD to date. Production-wise, they finally get everything right. Incredible sound, perfect video, and some awesome camera work put you right in the middle of the show. And for three guys who are all pushing 60 years of age, Rush can still churn out a live performance to make all of the young punks bury their heads in shame. With over three hours of jaw-dropping live performances, Snakes & Arrows Live is easily one of the best concert DVDs of the year.

3. John Mayer – Where The Light Is: I was perfectly prepared to not like this DVD. I mean, John Mayer was just some pop star, with better than average guitar skills, who my wife really liked. Well, now I like him too – in a manly, guitar-hero, kind of way of course. Where The Light Is is not only one of the most beautifully filmed concert DVDs I have ever seen, but the audio is both pristine and thunderous. The concert is broken up into three distinct sets, acoustic, blues-trio, and full touring band, and they are all awesome. His blues-trio performance, with the amazing Pino Palladino (bass) and Steve Jordon (drums), was my obvious favorite, and Mayer leaves not doubt that he is one of the best young guitarists in the business.

4. Marillion – Somewhere In London: There is something very personal about every Marillion concert I have seen – it is like you are witnessing the only show they are going to perform. Frontman Steve Hogarth's remarkably genuine fan rapport keeps the crowd eating out of his hands all night. He is a real pleasure watch. Marillion have been churning out great music and live shows for nearly 30 years now (hard to believe huh?), and they are showing no signs of slowing down. Somewhere In London was filmed during the band's Somewhere Else world tour of 2007, and this marvelous DVD puts you right at the show. If you like melodic, pop-rock, with a progressive edge, then definitely give these guys, and this wonderful DVD, a look.

5. Toto – Falling In Between Live: It now appears that Falling In Between Live will be Toto's farewell video. Last year, founding member, Steve Lukather, announced that he was quitting the band, and that Toto would be no more. Lukather was the only member of Toto to play on every album and tour, and by the Falling In Between tour, he, and singer Bobby Kimball, were the only original band members left. Don't let this deter you though. Falling In Between Live is not only one of the best produced concert videos in my collection, but Lukather and company also turn in a rocking performance of 21 songs, including some killer deep cuts like "Kingdom Of Desire" and "Gypsy Train", as well as some of the best material from their excellent last album, Falling In Between.

6. Neal Morse – Sola Scriptura and Beyond: I had to put Neal Morse above Spock's Beard on this list, because Morse's band still does the old Beard numbers better than the current Spock's Beard does. Sola Scriptura was Morse's fourth solo album since quitting Spock's Beard in 2002, and this is his second concert DVD. His first DVD, Testimony Live, came on the heals of his first post-Beard solo album, Testimony, and although it too was outstanding, it only featured that one album performed in its entirety, along with a few Beard and Transatlantic songs played for the encore. Sola Scriptura And Beyond is a much more satisfying affair, in that it features songs from every part of Morse's long career, including extended medleys of every solo album. The DVD is also terrifically long, with almost three hours worth of live performances included.

7. Spock's Beard – Live: I was a huge fan of the Neal Morse-era of Spock's Beard, but I lost track of the band after he quit in 2002. Spock's Beard Live was filmed during the band's 2007 tour in support of their third post-Morse album, the simply titled Spock's Beard. In true Genesis fashion, drummer and occasional vocalist Nick D'Virgilio jumped out from behind his drum kit to lead the mighty Beard after Morse's departure – and what an admiral job he has done. You will see here that not only is D'Virgilio one of the best drummers in the biz, but, like Morse, he is also a damn fine guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist. Spock's Beard has certainly won me back with this excellent concert DVD.

8. Heart – Soundstage: Heart Live: Much like their 2003 concert DVD, Alive in Seattle, Soundstage: Heart Live, presents the band in a very pristine and overly lit environment that does not truly capture the intensity of a real Heart arena concert. I saw Heart in concert last year, opening for Journey, and that was the kind of rockin' show I wish they would capture on DVD. With that said, the music and performances on Heart Live are simply too good to pass up. You get a killer 24-song setlist that spans the band's entire career, from their 1976 debut, Dreamboat Annie, on up to their most recent release, 2004's Jupiter's Darling. And of course they also do their heroes proud, with no less than three stupendous Led Zeppelin covers.

9. Steve Miller Band – Live From Chicago: Although Miller hasn't put out anything new since 1993's Wild River, he continues to pack the outdoor amphitheaters every summer, treating his loyal fans to the legion of hits he produced throughout the '70s. Live From Chicago is the Steve Miller Band's first concert DVD and they really did it up right. The packaging and production quality is as good as it gets, and Miller tears through all of his biggest hits, as well as a few excellent blues covers.

10. Scorpions – Live At Wacken Open Air 2006: I just had to squeeze this one into my top ten even though the production quality was somewhat disappointing. In celebration of their 35-year anniversary, the Scorpions headlined this amazing German metal festival in front of 60,000 of their fellow compatriots. To top it off, they invited former lead guitarists Uli Jon Roth and Michael Schenker to play the show, along with their drummer during most of the glory years, Herman Rarebell. The band also allowed their fans to vote on the setlist, and the fans did not disappoint. Sprinkled amongst all of the band's monster '80s hits were such mid '70s gems as "In Trance", as well as a few tracks from their most recent albums of the current decade.

Honorable Mention:
Jonny Lang – Live At Montreux 1999
Tesla – Comin' Atcha Live
Robben Ford – Ohne Filter Revisited
Live – Live At The Paradiso
Zebra – The DVD

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About Paul Roy

  • I loved S&A. Haven’t watched Rome, but have it sitting on the shelf. I am intrigued by your choice because I saw both tours live and thought Rush topped Genesis when I saw them.

    I would include ZZ Top – Live From Texas, ACDC – No Bull, I Got the Feeling – James Brown in the ’60s, Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis – Live at Jazz from Lincoln Center, and Nina Simone – Live in ’65 & ’68.

  • I was surprised by how good Rome was, since this particular incarnation of Genesis has never really been my favorite. The Marillion DVD is also a nice improvement on their Marbles On The Road DVD. You lost me just a bit with Toto, but hey, apples and oranges right?

    Do check out Gilmour’s Gdansk though…it’s essentially the last Performance from Richard Wright, and the inclusion of Ummagumma-era gem Astronomy Domine was a nice surprise. Nice list Paul.


  • FWIW — I think the sound and camera work is great on Live at Gdansk, especially the spine-tingling version of Echoes — but the faceless teeming crowd kept a safe 30 feet from the front of the stage is eerily reminiscent of The Wall’s premise.

    Speaking of teeming masses, the 1/2 million Romans watching Genesis live only drives home the point that most of these folks only showed up to say they were there (it WAS free, right?) and to react like lemmings to Collins’ hand directions “Loud, soft, loud, soft, slowly louder, soft” Oh boy.

    Gabriel and Hackett would have made this something more than another version of the Phil Collins Roadshow.

  • Paul Roy

    I gave the Genesis DVD the slight edge over Rush because it was by far their best concert DVD in terms of production, setlist, and overall enjoyability, and just about all of Rush’s DVDs have been great. AC/DC – No Bull is awesome, but it was a reissue. I though the ZZ Top DVD had really poor sound and a rather week performance. And I new somebody would have to say something about Toto. I’ve got a soft spot for the guys, and the quality of the new DVD is remarkable, whether you like the music or not.

  • I agree with Paul on the ones that I have (Genesis, Rush, Marillion) but that ZZ Top DVD is excellent – I’m completely in disagreement about the weak performance there. I thought that was a fantastic show, a lot of fun to watch. Can’t say much about the sound as I haven’t listened closely yet (it’ll be up to rip for listening on the Ipod soon) but it seemed fine to me.

    I’d put Living Colour’s Paris Concert in my list, however – we’ve needed a full-concert live video from these guys for so long, and one of the few times a late-period release from a band doesn’t mean having to watch it thinking “well, I’d rather have gotten one from ___ tour.” These guys are ON. Totally intense show.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Yup, Tom is right..I caught the ZZ Top concert on Palladia(?), a FIOS HD Channel, and I thought they did a smokin’ job for a three piece that has been around as long as they have. I enjoyed the concert and was amazed at how well Billy Gibbons ripped up some electric blues leads. Seeing how I was introduced to ZZ on their “Eliminator” album, I had no idea he was that good. They are a solid act and don’t get the credit they deserve.

    Personally, I would also add Opeth “The Roundhouse Tapes” because it captured a great live set and because it’s the last DVD with ,the amazing,Peter Lindgren on Lead Guitar.

  • Paul Roy

    I have a love-hate relationship with Opeth. Fantastic musicians, amazing music, and I love Åkerfeldt’s “normal” vocals, but I just cannot get past the death-metal growling. It nearly ruins it for me. To each his own, I guess. I will have to check out The Roundhouse Tapes DVD though, because they are still too good to completely ignore.

    The ZZ Top DVD just didn’t do it for me. I know Billy and the boys are gettin’ up there in age, but its like they were playing in slow motion. Find some YouTube clips of these boys in their prime and you will see what I mean.

  • “David Gilmour’s Live At Gdansk is missing from my list since it is essentially the same show that I reviewed on last year’s Remember That Night DVD”

    No actually, there is are substantial differencse in the ‘Live At Gdansk’ DVD. Specifically, a full orchestra and the fact that this is the very last recording of the wonderful Richard Wright.

    I personally went crazy and bought the 5 disc version and love it. Then add to that the new videos offered at the website, as well as the downloadable new tune recordings from the entire tour at the beginning of each month. Gdansk is substantially BETTER than ‘Remember That Night’. I seriously doubt we will ever hear live Pink Floyd tunes done so well again. And the addition of the orchestra on many of Gilmour’s recent tunes is lovely. Thank you David Gilmour!

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    For me, my favorite from Opeth was when I saw them on their tour supporting Deliverance/Damnation and still I really only wanted to hear songs from Blackwater Park which is their best album.

    Åkerfeldt’s growling is what I love and what was f*cking awesome about Blackwater was that they would occasionally fuse some jazz like elements with his softer vocals but now it seems that they are way more prog than death which is kinda getting on my nerves. They were great on the Watershed tour because they played quite a few of their more difficult older songs. BUT, Watershed seems to lose me a bit. I guess it is kinda like getting technical just for the sake of getting technical. Which isn’t necessarily bad but for Opeth they were also about passion & agression

  • Paul Roy

    Derek, I did say “essentially” the same show, but I see what you mean about Gdansk. Okay, I’m sold. I’ve been waiting for a DVD only version that is more reasonably priced than these four and five disk sets though.

  • Vito G. Corbosiero

    Nice article. The Genesis shows were definitly worth seeing. I’ve been a fan since the early Gabriel years. It would have been nice to have Peter and Steve Hackett on the stage with them, but, like Phil Collins stated, it would be a different project. I saw the Genesis Tour in Totonto, Buffalo, and Giants Stadium. I loved all 3 shows. Genesis is defintly worth seeing more than once and if you have not had the pleasure seeing them, you should defintly check out any of there live shows on DVD. I love the early Box set with Peter. The Nursery Cryme album offers us a glimpse into the Grunge sound that Steve Hackett introduced to the music world.

  • Chriss

    I´m Sorry!!! The best Music DVD 2008 Paul Stanley -One Live Kiss!!!!!! and PAUL WINS SHOWMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD!

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    The best Music DVD 2008 Paul Stanley -One Live Kiss!!!!!!

    LMFAO!!! Sorry… Genesis trumps KISS any day of the week. And, Mikael Akerfeldt on his PRS would guitar circles around that tired hack.

  • i’d take the Paul Stanley over the Genesis and Akerfeldt only because early Genesis never did anything for me and silly stuff like Kiss and Poison is more to my liking than Opeth.

    (i do like Akerfeldt though…great player…funnier than hell too)

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Well, at least you admit that Poison is silly.
    Actually, Bret Michaels is more of a hack than Mr. Stanley but that’s not saying much.

    Personally, I prefer Brand X over most Genesis with the exception of their 80’s stuff.

  • i can’t help it, i like the more more pop-oriented Genesis. i’ve given The Lamb Lies Down… and others from that era and they do nothing for me.

    BrandX is good. that danged Phil can play some drums.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Hell, I’m no Genesis prog connoisseur, my favorite song is Land of Confusion but at least with their “prog” stuff I can appreciate the musicianship and ideas even if I don’t like all the tunes. As for KISS & Paul Stanley (solo), the more I get older the more their catalog sounds immature. KISS’ music never holds up over time and Paul Stanley seems like he’s trying be a pop star. Ultimately, they both release material that bores me to f*cking tears and they should call it a day.

    Dude, I knew Phil was a good drummer but on Brand X he’s amazing to the point that I thought it wasn’t him. Sometimes, when I listen to their albums,I wonder why he bothered to start singing but then I remember, I love In the Air Tonight and,imo, he has a great voice.

  • i gotta go look and see what BrandX cd i have. i first heard of them when a bunch of stuff hadn’t made it over to cd….hmmm, i think it’s Unorthodox Behavior.

    my favorite Phil drum sound is on Duke.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Yup, that’s the one I’ve got and it doesn’t really sound that dated or maybe it’s that their sound is becoming popular again amongst prog bands…Who knows?

    I’m gonna have to check out Duke. The explanation at Wikipedia sounds like it would be right up my alley. Granted, I love technical prog rock/metal, I also love it when bands can incorporate or “fuse” two different aspects.

  • Paul Roy

    I am still really fond of the Duke, Abacab, Genesis albums, probably because that was how I was first introduced to the band. I then went back and got into the earlier Gabriel era stuff. I love it all though.

  • Pete

    Just caught the ZZTop concert on Palladia. I have seen more energy in a morgue. Same 5 hackneyed songs I have heard a thousand times. I liked 4 of them in the 70’s and 80’s but face it, all they are now is tired. Both the songs and the trio.

  • cappadizzy

    My only addition would be The Who Live at Kilburn ’77- not only do we get to see one of band’s final performances with Keith Moon(staged for the film/doc “The Kids Are Alright”)but we also get a virtually complete show from London ’69 when The Who was featuring the newly released Tommy LP and playing at selected Opera houses.