February 2003

Action-packed live DVD from Norman Cook's little waterfront shindig in May 2002. The audience was somewhere between 10,000 and 250,000 people (reports vary). On camera it looks like a fuckload of people on the scale of Woodstock. Since the event itself was a free gig done in Fatboy Slim's hometown of Brighton, England, they get all walks of life turning up, not just dance-music enthusiasts. To some people it might seem like an awful lot of hoo-ha to "watch a bloke playing some records," but it's much more than that. It's not just the music, it's not just the audience, nor is it just Fatboy Slim with his trademark bad Hawaiian shirt, vodka & orange juice and shit-eating grin. It's a tough concept for those not in touch with their inner ass-shaking, tongue-poking, camera-pointing idiot to grasp. This DVD is beautifully filmed and edited, with enough crowd shots to appease people-watchers. In fact there's at least as much of the audience in the film as of Stormin' Norman. Two of the tracks on the DVD have optional multi-angle edits, which are actually fairly traditional music videos. The sound is excellent with a nice blend of audience and music. And of course the music is well-chosen. But the star of the show is of course the man himself, Fatboy Slim, holding court behind his turntables and acting as an ambassador for the music - waving his arms, smiling, writing notes to the audience on record sleeves and actually having a - gasp - stage presence! Shock! Horror! Far from being a faceless techie, Fatboy Slim carries the torch for dance music. The DVD also includes an audio commentary by Norman Cook and two of his cronies, which is very revealing as to the technicalities of the performance. There's bonus footage of Fatboy Slim and crew in Japan during the World Cup this year, plus a couple of silly video games that lead to more extra footage and an area where you can program 12 of the audio tracks yourself in whatever order you choose. That, I think, is the DVD's response to the sentiment "If you think it's just some guy playing a bunch of records, then feel free to have a go yourself." Overall it's very entertaining and it's just as much fun to sit and watch as it is to jump on the furniture and gyrate to. Or so I've been told.

After the not-on-form 1992 live video RAISING HELL (which featured a magician between songs), LIVE IN RIO is pure millenial Maiden, dude. Creative camera work (edited by Steve Harris), excellent sound and a big-ass stage that looks like a new wing of Heathrow Airport. The set list boldly relies on newer material, with only a few requisite dips into the back catalog (ie The Trooper? What other old songs?). The band is performing at levels that exceed even LIVE AFTER DEATH; Bruce Dickinson in particular is in very fine form, holding notes longer, screaming more and running around more than ever. Dave Murray and Adrian Smith plant themselves on the stage like gargoyles (one with a big tomato for a face and the other with a small fox-tail hanging down its chin), while Steve Harris runs around singing all the words. Nicko McBrain is as energetic as ever, making faces and acting the fool. However it must be said that Janick Gers has the worst stage presence since Adrian Vandenberg - in fact it looks like he's still auditioning for a spot in Whitesnake. Not to mention when Eddie makes his onstage appearance, Mr Gers runs circles around him, pretending to stab him in the face with his guitar, eventually kicking him in the crotch. Dude, everybody knows you don't upstage Eddie! And the triple-Strat attack still makes no sense. Janick Gers is the weak link in an otherwise surprisingly entertaining package. The VHS is the best value - at $15 it includes the entire concert and several of the extras from the DVD. Finally, a worthy successor to LIVE AFTER DEATH! Now they should do another chapter of BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN.

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