Filed under: Reviews
One of the most unpleasant trends in directing, especially in music footage, is the tendency of directors to show what they want the viewers to see, instead of actually capturing what is going on. This was especially true in Sammy Hagar and Van Halen's concert DVD footage, that tended to focus too much on the audience, going into black and white mode, and alternating the footage between two separate concert dates. This trend is, unfortunately, not limited to the music that Sammy Hagar has appeared in, but quite prevalent in the rest of the music industry. Therefore, it was the absence of this directing ego, and the focus on the performance and musicianship, that made the Joe Satriani-headlined G3 Live in Tokyo concert DVD so much different and better than what the rest of the industry had to offer.
In the case of Get Your Buzz On (Live), the directing, camera angles, and editing tended more towards the style of the G3 DVD, rather than of the previous Sammy Hagar-fronted DVDs. At almost all times, the camera is always focused on the band. The footage only ever cuts to the audience between songs, and when the band is interacting with the audience. The only exception would be in one song, which made the DVD seem inconsistent with itself. Despite this one flaw, very much of the performance is well-captured. There are good shots, such as a close up on Joe Satriani playing his guitar, while Michael Anthony is playing his bass in the background.
In Chickenfoot, Michael Anthony is able to do much more with his bass playing than he previously had, especially in his later years with Van Halen that constrained him to the background. On this DVD, Anthony also brought along his trademark Jack Daniels bass, and his unique high pitched vocals. He even unleashed the howl in "Immigrant Song", as the band jammed momentarily to that tune. Not unlike his days with Van Halen, Anthony even got to sing the leading part of a song's verse, in this case, to "Bad Motor Scooter".
Sammy Hagar even took out his lap steel guitar to play the introduction to "Bad Motor Scooter". Hagar's vocals were solid, but the parts where he tries to do a scream in a duel with Satriani's guitaring were quite questionable. For the majority of the concert, he is not playing an instrument, despite being competent with the guitar. Instead, he just sings, and acts goofy for the most part of the concert, and gets made fun of by Chad Smith in the documentary.
For a drummer, Chad Smith is quite flamboyant, as he is responsible for the other half of the on-stage banter with Hagar. During "Bitten By the Wolf", the album bonus track, Smith leaves his seat at the drums, and joins the rest of the band up front, by playing a single bass drum and a tambourine. In the documentary of the DVD, Smith gets the most laughs with his interviews on the street with random people, showing footage of Hagar's "Get It Up" dance, and with his photo shoot where he was dressed up as Will Ferrell as an Elf.
The documentary also had a great segment with Joe Satriani, as he is getting interviewed by in-character Spinal Tap guitarist Nigel Tufnel. Satriani is the most reserved of the four members of Chickenfoot, but manages to steal the show when he is on stage, as he put his entire body into playing the guitar. His playing is absolutely unrivaled, and has no words to describe it. From the intro harmonic lick at the start of the concert in "Avenida Revolution", to the American National Anthem at the end of the concert, he constantly displays his jaw dropping abilities with the guitar. He proved that he not only plays incredibly fast, but during a ballad like "Learning to Fall", Satriani sounds smooth, graceful, and emotional, without coming off like an ill-placed shredder in the middle of a slow song. Though the band has only released one album, they were able to play an entire concert's length. This is primarily due to the band's on-stage jamming that showed off Satriani's great guitaring.
Even with a solid all-around effort, the DVD does have a few minor flaws. It would have been convenient if the DVD had a track list menu, and an angle option that could focus on any band member, so the viewer could closely watch the musical techniques of that individual. Also, the band should have played the full versions of "Immigrant Song" and "My Generation". Lastly, "Runnin' Out" was not played, but reserved as a piped track as the credits rolled as the concert came to an end. But all these are minor complaints that should not influence somebody's decision to purchase the DVD. The DVD is a must get for anybody that has followed any of the four band members through their lengthy careers.