Blackfield: NYC-Live in New York City (DVD)
What do you get when you match Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson and Israel's leading counter culture rock musician, Aviv Geffen? Well, Blackfield of course. This band has released two CD's over the last few years to positive acclaim, and NYC-Live in New York City was recorded on March 16th 2007 at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City while the band was on a small tour here in the US supporting Blackfield II. The band's recorded output is dreamy, slightly progressive sounding pop music, littered with catchy vocal hooks from both Wilson & Geffen, plenty of keyboard soundscapes, and Wilson's tasty guitar work. Live, the band kicks up their rock side a bit, as the songs from both studio releases take on a new twist here and really come to life. With great camera work and wonderful 5.1 DTS surround sound, NYC-Live in New York City is a positively stunning DVD to watch and enjoy. The fact that both Wilson and Geffen are great entertainers also helps matters, and with their rock solid band the performances on these 18 songs are top notch. Whether you like soaring pop numbers, edgy prog rock pieces, or alternative flavored songs, it's all here, as the band tears through many selections from their studio releases, plus a surprising cover of Alanis Morrisett's "Thank You". Wilson shows throughout this set what an excellent guitar player he is, as he tones down the bombast that you normally hear from him with Porcupine Tree to a more restrained and subtle style, adding in plenty of shimmering chords, tasty solos, and tonal colors. His work on the more rock oriented numbers like "Once", "Epidemic", and "Cloudy Now" is precision guitar playing at its best, and vocally, alongside Geffen, tunes like "Pain", "Blackfield", "Hello", "Miss You", and "Glow" come across so rich and melodic, as the band more than recreates the feel and vibe of these songs from their studio counterparts.
The duo obviously enjoy working together, and it's more than evident here. Here's hoping that this partnership continues for years to come, and these two musicians/songwriters can keep fitting in some time for Blackfield in between their main projects.
2. Miss U
5. The Hole In Me
6. 1,000 People
9. Thank You
12. Open Mind
13. My Gift Of Silence
14. Where Is My Love?
15. End Of The World
17. Once (Encore)
18. Cloudy Now
1. Hello (Promo Video)
2. Pain (Promo Video)
3. Blackfield (Promo Video)
Added: October 25th 2009
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Blackfield Website
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|Blackfield: NYC-Live in New York City (DVD)
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-10-25 22:10:47
****This is a review of the 2009 deluxe DVD/CD Edition Live in NYC****
Unless you have been totally out of the progressive rock loop you will have heard of Steven Wilson's side project Blackfield. Collaborating with Israeli born Aviv Geffen the band has released two studio albums and a DVD. Originally released in 2007, the concert was filmed at the Bowery Ballroom in New York and has been given the special treatment as this re-release also includes a CD. The track listing is the same as the DVD.
Joining Wilson and Geffen are Eran Mitelman (keyboards), Seffy Efrati (bass guitar) and Tomer Z (drums). The songs, taken from the previous two Blackfield albums, do not vary much from the original versions, but are energetically performed and played to perfection. I admit to being a big fan of Blackfield and it was very nice to see these songs performed in a live setting.
The lyrics are still morose as ever but I never find Blackfield's songs depressing. That may be because these tunes are so incredibly melodic it just feels good to listen to them. Wilson and Geffen's voices blend beautifully together and Wilson adds excellent electric guitar throughout. His moody rhythms and beautifully melodic solos are a driving force behind Blackfield's music. Of course, this being a band collaboration there are other important forces at work such as the understated keyboards of Mitelman that add just the right amount of atmosphere to these compositions and the drumming of Tomer Z whose tone and cymbal work are top notch.
Highlights include the poignant pop of "Pain", one of my favouite Blackfield tunes and an excellent vocal performance from Geffen. The band plays with an underlying intensity that is hard to describe but is there nonetheless. The tribal drumming throughout the rocking "Once (Encore)" is a lot of fun and the band almost displays a punk rock fury at times. The melodic pop of "Christenings" comes to life as Wilson's slide work invokes Pink Floyd at their most mellowest and Wilson's psychedelic guitar is a highlight in the intense, darker sound of "Epidemic".
One curiousity is a cover of the Alanis Morissette penned "Thank You" that is well suited to the band's take on moody pop explorations. Mitelman's keyboards are quite lovely and integral to the performance.
As to be expected the production quality is very good and the CD/DVD sounds and looks great. The DVD includes videos of "Pain", "Hello" and "Blackfield" which were enjoyable to watch.
Although the music of Blackfield is quite different from Porcupine Tree, there are subtle similarities, and anyone interested in that band may find Blackfield to their liking. This is a quality release and will be an excellent addition for fans of the band or a great starting point for the uninitiated.
|Blackfield: NYC-Live in New York City (DVD)
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-02-27 19:37:49
If you weren't already aware of this - the band Blackfield is the result of the creative energies from Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson and Israeli Alt-Rock star Aviv Geffen who joined forces to create material back around the year 2000. Their original plan was to do a simple EP but it ended up resulting in a full release in 2004 that even led to a follow up in 2007. The music that's to be found on "Blackfield" and "Blackfield II" make these albums truly worthy additions to any fine CD collection. The reason for this is based on the group sounding entirely different from that of its members' primary groups. With Blackfield you don't merely get a side project that holds a ton of reference to that of Porcupine Tree and the work that Aviv does and instead the listener finds a breath of fresh air in the musical sense. While it's Melodic Pop to some degree of the word it also has that Progressive and Alternative element to it and as result offers up some truly inspirational and thought provoking lyrical content. The bottom line is that it's really enjoyable stuff and this DVD film "Blackfield Live in NYC" captures the group on a stormy winter's night at the Bowery Ballroom. This is an intimate venue on the Lower East Side that holds just over 500 people and was truly the perfect room for this show to be filmed at. Having attended the performance I can confirm that the snow outside made travel difficult for everyone, it didn't stop anyone and here we were at a performance that was sold out for many weeks in advance. The people around me came from all different walks of life and to get a better gauge of the night I talked to those around me and found models and musicians, foreign transplants to the states from everywhere you can imagine and an audience who listened to everything from Hard Rock to Pop, Heavy Metal to Jazz Fusion. I admit this impressed me to observe and when the band hit the stage to perform you had awed silence until the electricity of their delivery brought them to a larger than life type of level. You might be wondering why I am musing about the show in the DVD review but that's the amazing part of it since the film brings to the world this entire performance as it was done that night, song for song, band interaction after band interaction. As I viewed it I was as impressed and reminded of just how good the show had been and how impressed they had me. I was guilty of only having heard "Blackfield II" before the show and felt that while it was good, the record didn't sell me right away. Live, these songs took on a whole new meaning and had much more of a resounding power to them. The production is top notch and comes from the same people who did the Porcupine Tree DVD "Arriving Somewhere" and they delivered on this and I thank them for an absolutely killer job. There are incredible camera angles and the sound is crisp and clean. The show begins with Steven Wilson strumming his guitar to the song "Once" over the pounding backbeat of drummer Tomar Z. and the smooth keyboards of their newest member Eran Mitelman. The response from the audience is nothing less than excited and when the group is joined by Aviv it's just overwhelming. It was a band that had everyone's attention from the moment they began until their rousing finale. As I reviewed the set list once again while the film played I tried to line out some of the finer highlights but realized that there were just too many from the show. Normally this would be impossible for someone with such a limited background on a band to feel, but Blackfield managed to make it happen.
The material on the film spans the bands two releases but there are also a couple of treats to enjoy on top of them. The first is a piano and guitar rendition of Alanis Morissette's "Thank You". Wilson does this number so well that I felt it even surpassed the original at times. We also get one of Geffen's older songs, the originally done in Hebrew "Cloudy Now", which is now in English and becomes the bands rousing finish and features the audience singing along. I also felt that tracks like "Miss U" and their self titled one of "Blackfield" stood out a little more than some of the rest. Either way this is one of those DVD's that gets watched on a number of occasions and is easily enjoyed. Its not one that remains on your shelf and gets lost among your Sopranos and Seinfeld DVD season boxes. There is also some bonus material which is the promo videos for "Pain", "Miss You" and "Blackfield". Let's hope these guys choose to release an audio only version of this because it worked so well. If you are a fan of Modern Rock, then Blackfield is a smart choice for you to make.
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