Friday, February 3, 2012

Black Country Communion - Live Over Europe

Black Country Communion
Live Over Europe
J&R Adventures/Fontana Distribution

From the moment Black Country Communion announced their formation, the supergroup has hit the ground running, releasing two albums (2010’s self-titled effort and 2001’s ‘2’) in less than two years.
But while some all-star groups focus most of their attention on studio work, Black Country Communion have only seen their studio albums as telling half the story, with the band undertaking tours of both the U.S. and Europe, which has proven beyond any doubt that Black Country Communion is more than a studio project made up of classic rock legends. With the band taking a break from playing live, and just prior to hitting the studio in preparation for a third studio release, Black Country Communion have released their first live D.V.D. ‘Live Over Europe’ to tide fans over.
Recorded over three nights in July 2011 while on tour in Germany (The band filmed in Munich, Berlin and Hamburg), ‘Live In Europe’ is a testament to the chemistry that exists within the four piece outfit live (Who comprise of ex-Deep Purple/Black Sabbath vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes, lead/rhythm guitarist/vocalist Joe Bonamassa, ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian and drummer/backing vocalist Jason Bonham), and that classic hard rock is alive and well in the hand of these seasoned musicians.
After a two minute intro (Which features the musical piece ‘Revolution Of The Machine’, which was written by producer Kevin Shirley and Jeff Bova), the band hits the stage with ‘Black Country’. Captured with fourteen cameras, and dark in tone (The lighting in the club is kept to a minimum), the footage is quite gritty and artistic in its presentation (Some out of focus shots, quick cuts and odd camera angles), and doesn’t really allow the viewer to feel like their part of the concert. Making things worse is the small snippet of interview footage that crops up almost immediately after the opening riff to the first song. After watching ‘Black Country’, my expectations for the remainder of the D.V.D. weren’t as high as they were before.
But thankfully, things really improve with the follow on tracks ‘One Last Soul’, ‘Crossfire’ and the Led Zeppelin-like ‘Save Me’ (All of which were shot in a club in Munich), with the editing taking on a more free-flowing effect, and all the magic of the band’s live show brought out in all its glory.
The move to an outdoor stage (In Berlin) for the following two songs does throw the viewer a little (Especially given that the band are playing in daylight), but in terms of performance, Black Country Communion is flawless. Bonamassa is positively stunning on the classic ‘The Battle For Hadrian’s Wall’, and Hughes proves he’s the ultimate front man on the riff heavy ‘Beggarman’.
The remainder of the D.V.D. comes from the band’s performance in Hamburg (Again, outdoors and in the daytime), and it’s at this show where you get a real feel of the chemistry that flows through the four man act onstage. Again Bonamassa is a stand out with his own track ‘The Ballad Of John Henry’ (Which boasts an amazing Theremin solo!), where he exudes an incredibly cool composure while cranking out some killer riffs (Something he manages to do throughout the whole D.V.D.), while Hughes takes on the role of rock legend, and putting on phenomenal performances on ‘Cold’, the driving funk stomper ‘The Outsider’, ‘Man In The Middle’ and a cover of Deep Purple’s classic ‘Burn’.
Apart from the concert footage (Which runs for close to seventy minutes), ‘Live Over Europe’ comes with a few bonus features, with the first being ‘Forging BCC – The Making Of Live Over Europe’. Over its twenty-five minute duration, all of the members of the band (Including unofficial fifth member Kevin Shirley – Black Country Communion’s producer and mixer) tell the story of the band’s formation, getting to know each other, the writing process, the ideals behind the group and touring/playing live. Although short, the documentary is well put together, and a worthy addition to the D.V.D.
Outside of the documentary, there’s a ‘Live On Tour’ photo gallery (Close to forty shots) and a ‘Behind The Scenes’ photo gallery (A little over thirty pictures).
While some of the live footage is a bit questionable at the start, and the small snippets of interview footage dotted within the live show are annoying and unnecessary (Especially given that they all turn up in the documentary itself), ‘Live Over Europe’ is a great live release from Black Country Communion is a must have for fans of the lads from the black country.

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© Justin Donnelly