Five years after the release of the first volume, Tenacious D return with The Complete Masterworks 2, but the thrill is long gone. This new two-DVD set is essential for fans, since the band's projects are so few and far between, but despite the addition of a backing band and more elaborate sets, the 2007 concert on the first disc suffers from the D's thin repertoire. Luckily the second disc is home to a revealing documentary, D Tour: A Tenacious Documentary.
Both pieces are linked to their 2006 theatrical bomb, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. The documentary chronicles the most costly tour the band has ever undertaken. The concert footage, an energetic and well-received Seattle performance, is culled from that same tour. Unlike the first Masterworks release, where the duo performed together with only their acoustic guitars to accompany, three other musicians join the band for most of the show. Ten of the songs are carried over from the previous collection, supplemented with several songs from The Pick of Destiny soundtrack album. That's what happens when a band has only released two albums in eight years. As great as their 2001 self-titled debut is, they've unfortunately released very little new material since then. Of the new songs, only "Kickapoo" and "Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)" seem like D classics. Worst of all is "Master Exploder", which is mimed to the studio track.
This new concert is more conceptual, opening in Gass' "apartment" for an acoustic set before descending into hell. Once in hell, Black and Gass form a band with the Antichrist on lead guitar, Colonel Sanders on drums, and Charlie Chaplin on bass. This is funny stuff, but once they start playing the additional musicians dilute the sound of the acoustic duo. Gass, in particular, begins to feel less integral as the focus shifts to the louder instruments. These guys have gone as far as they can with this act unless they get serious about writing some new classics. The adoring audience sings along, but the effect is depressingly close to an oldies act running through nostalgic favorites. Black and Gass still work up a considerable sweat though. And Black's singing has, if anything, become even more impressive. But bits like "Saxaboom" and "Kyle Quit the Band" have become stale, at least for those who has seen it all before.
The seventy-minute documentary on disc two offers a chance to see Black and Gass with their guard down. It's funny, in a sort of bittersweet way, as we see the genuinely disappointed reactions to their movie's failure. Obviously this wasn't just another movie for Black. The Pick of Destiny was a pet project for him, and he hoped it would spawn a series of Tenacious D films. Gass admits early on that he has reservations about the tour, which will put them into huge arenas around the world. There are numerous surprises throughout D Tour, mainly the candid, out-of-character moments between Black and Gass. At a Letterman taping, we see the moment they realize Letterman only wants Black on the couch to promote the movie. Gass is understandably pissed off, and makes his feelings known backstage. Gass' parents show up for a visit, explaining to him that the band's fans are only interested in Jack Black. Of course, the D faithful know this isn't true. Still, it's hard not to feel sympathy for Gass, who once upon a time wasn't any more or less famous than Black.
The D Tour documentary is worth the price of admission alone, and despite some mixed feelings the concert is still very entertaining. Extras include a handful of TV appearances and a short film called "Time Fixers". For my money, The Complete Masterworks 2 is a solid addition to the Tenacious D canon.