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