Now available on Blu-ray from Eagle Rock Entertainment, the Black Crowes concert presentation Warpaint Live will please fans of the venerable band. Filmed in front of a full house at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, the Crowes' entire Warpaint album is performed, along with a few covers and earlier Crowes tunes. The concert occurred on March 20th, 2008, only a couple weeks after the album was released. The Blu-ray provides a you-are-there realism, with an authentically "live" audio mix and no-frills photography that focuses on the band.
Warpaint was the Crowes' first new studio album since 2001's Lions. Quite controversially, Maxim magazine had the audacity to run a lukewarm review of the album without having heard any of it, save one song ("Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution"). Despite Maxim's "educated guess" regarding its quality, the album proved to be one of the most critically successful of the band's career. Guitarist Luther Dickinson and keyboardist Adam MacDougall made their debuts on Warpaint.
The album's eleven tracks are performed during the 103 minutes of Warpaint Live, in the same sequence as the studio recording. The sextet, augmented by backing vocalists Charity White and Mona Lisa Young, are firing on all cylinders throughout. The studio versions are excellent, but the live performances really cook. This is raw, intense, and supremely bluesy rock.
Chris Robinson, easily among the most underrated of rock singers, has truly grown into his voice over the band's twenty year existence. His brother Rich plays with his customary stone-faced intensity. Dickinson and MacDougall acquit themselves nicely as the new kids on the block.
In addition to the Warpaint material, a pair of older Crowes songs are featured; the relative rarity "Darling Of the Underground Press" and the better known "Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye." Some viewers might find themselves disappointed by the absence of classics like "She Talks To Angels" or "Remedy." This isn't a hits-oriented show by any means, and that's important to know upfront. A few covers are also thrown in, including a faithful take on the Rolling Stones' "Torn and Frayed" and a rousing finale of Moby Grape's "Hey Grandma."
Technically there is extremely little to complain about with this solid Blu-ray presentation. The 1080i high definition video, while not stunning, is very strong. The blessedly simple videography is sharp and well lit. There is a bit of visual noise from time to time during darker shots, but nothing that really detracts from the overall look.
Audio choices include DTS HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital 5.1, and LPCM stereo. You can't go wrong with any of these tracks, but most highly recommended is the DTS. Crank it up and close your eyes – you'll practically feel like you're at the concert. It's truly representative of a live performance. I sampled the Dolby track and found it to be lacking a bit of punch in the vocal department. For those without a surround sound system, the LPCM stereo track is still quite impressive, with a clear and full sound.
The Black Crowes rarely seem to get the respect they've earned over the years. For those who doubt they are a great classic rock band, Warpaint Live should be all the evidence needed to convince them otherwise.