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Published: 2005/03/09
by Dan Greenhaus

Funky Meters Live From the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Jazzfest is, simply put, the greatest week fans of music, or a musician can possibly imagine. The food is just incredible, the music even more so. The sights can’t be seen elsewhere, and the smells are completely indigenous (Bourbon Street included). And arguably the most "New Orleans" thing about New Orleans is The Funky Meters, although Jacque Imo and The Neville Brothers might have something to say about that.
Similar to watching the spotted leopard in its natural habitat, watching The Funky Meters on stage at the Festival Fairgrounds is watching a wild animal in comfortable surroundings. And while the band isn’t quite a wild animal, the band has been known to go off on wild, twenty-minute excursions of some of their most famous and beloved songs. Typically this doesn’t happen at the actual festival, as the night shows and the fans that attend them allow the band to stretch their musical muscles a little more; the 2000 Fairgrounds show captured on this DVD provides a nice glimpse into the Funky Meters’ vast, vast repertoire and hopefully will introduce even more fans into what is surely one of the most enjoyable live acts on the planet.
Of the eleven tracks on the disc, it’s hard to pinpoint the ‘highlight’ as the band has so many fantastic songs and almost always plays them to perfection. The band is one of the most talented and skilled groups you can see, and songs like ‘People Say,’ ‘Africa,’ and ‘Ain’t No Use,’ showcase both the Funky Meters’ musical diversity and cultural awareness. And thus, the DVD documents what fans at any one of the band’s shows already knows this band can funk, this band can rock and this band can jam.
Now, onto the particulars:
The sound on the DVD is exceptional, as is to be expected from the 5.1 surround sound. As with most concert DVDs, the experience is exponentially enhanced when hooking your DVD player up to any stereo system as generally TV sets can’t do the music justice, and this DVD is no different. George Porter Jr.‘s bass is clear and crisp and is almost never lost in the mix, a problem that plagues many a bass player in concert DVDs. Art Neville (who looks great in the video) plays his keys to perfection, even if, at times, he gets a little too loud in the mix. Brian’s guitar and Russell’s drums also sound great and almost never dominate to the detriment of the other players. In fact, the jam leading into ‘Cissy Strut’ features only those two players sounds excellent.
As for the video, it is crystal clear. There is no moment that I can recall where I felt anything on the screen was lacking. The shots of the band are great, and the editor did a fantastic job of avoiding the pitfalls of focusing on one player over another. As well, the shots of the band are interwoven, occasionally, with shots of the crowd, something that I always find enhances concert footage, as we all know that attending a concert is more than just about the music (yes, it’s okay to say). And while the footage of the crowd hardly dominates, it serves as a subtle reminder that yes indeed this is a live concert, and not just four guys on a stage.
So, upon review, the DVD is well worth owning, something that I am unable to always say. There are hardly any flaws with the DVD itself, and it’s enhanced with some interviews, something that is always interesting. I’ve watched it about three times by now, and I have no intention of NOT watching it again. The only question is: Can I get enough people to watch it by Jazzfest to convince them to come with me?
I’d bet yes.

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