It’s the time of year for saving money!
The guys in Devo have the right idea here: sell nicely packaged CDs of their concerts mixed properly from the soundboard so fans can take home a memento of their live experience and offer something even the hardcore fans will want to order — a previously unreleased concert of the band in its heyday! I didn’t get to see Devo on this tour – actually I’ve sadly never had the stars align to let me see the band play live, ever.
I did, however, order one of their new concert discs and I am not disappointed.
First came choice of show: I checked on setlists.fm and noticed that one particular show from late in the tour seemed to have a couple more songs performed than other shows, so went for that one despite it being performed a winery. Yes, I ordered a recording of Devo playing live at an Australia winery (12/9/12) hoping it would not be a dubious performance. More on that later…
The disc arrived and I was really pleased as it comes in a nifty full color digipack package with cool artwork, not some throw-away faux bootleg plain cardboard cover (like Pearl Jam’s pioneering live series) or a cheesy standard single sheet of paper insert (as I got on a late 90s official Who mail-order concert release once). This looks like an album. The only handmade element being a gold sticker on the back indicating the location of the show and pressing number in the series of 1000 made (I got #82!).
The 2012 show is really solid, with new material from their great 2010 comeback album Something For Everybody working nicely alongside hits and album tracks from their classic run from the late 70s through 80s. The band is playing a bit more evenly paced (dare I say slowly?) but that is OK — everything rocks along nicely (great for car listening). And the sound is really solid — like a perfect FM broadcast as you might hear on a well produced syndicated radio show. I have to assume that all these shows are mixed this well.
The notion of them playing at a winery is not lost on the band and they take the time to remind the fans there that “In the rest of the world things are getting kinda ugly and dire…” asking for their help before launching into “Whip It.” They later remind people that they are lucky to be in “beautiful wine country” before launching into their quasi sarcastic hit “Beautiful World,” which features a guest vocal by their De-evolved character Boogie Boy. It drives the point home.
Then there is the 1978 show from Bristol in the UK, which is a gem, a perfect capture of the band at ascending to superstardom. They are playing fast and more manic than the 2012 show — this is early Devo at its finest, before the MTV-friendly dance hits began to define their oeuvre. If you love those first two albums you’ll want this live concert.
What else can I say? If you like Devo, you should get at least one of these discs. For $25, it’s a deal.
Mark Smotroff is a freelance writer and avid music collector who has worked for many years in marketing communications for the consumer electronics, pro audio and video games industries, serving clients including DTS, Sega, Sony, Sharp, AT&T and many others. Mark has written for EQ Magazine, Mix Magazine, Goldmine/DISCoveries Magazine, Sound+Vision Magazine and HomeTechTell.com. He is also a musician / composer who’s songs have been used in TV shows such as Smallville and Men In Trees as well as films and documentaries. Mark is currently rolling out a new musical he’s written. www.smotroff.com