Kaada/Patton got four [clowns] for their Romances album when I reviewed that back in the day. Now that I’ve seen this DVD of them playing the album live at Roskilde in 2007, though, I feel I didn’t lavish enough praise on that disc. I’ve taken the chance to revisit it while working through this concert and have come to appreciate it more fully. I hadn’t previously conceptualized the work as a single suite, thinking of it instead as an album of songs. Seeing it performed start to finish in front of an audience, however, I don’t think it can be taken as anything but a single, epic work weaving modern pop, electronic, and avant-garde art music together.
I really like this DVD but, truth be told, I didn’t like it the first time through. In fact, I quite detested it. There were a number of factors that contributed to that, but I think the primary reason was that the middle section, from “Aubade” through “Viens, Les Gazons Sont Verts,” is so challenging, sparse, and nontraditional that, especially in front of a live crowd, it felt more like navel gazing than thoughtful entertainment. That was also before I’d spent more time with the CD, and I think having that baseline in my mind as the target of what it was “supposed” to sound like helped me realize that they’d really done a fine job of translating much of the more challenging studio constructions into performance-ready material. (The 16.5-minute DVD rehearsal film extra helped me understand this as well.)
So you end up appreciating this on two levels, kind of. First, there’s the beautiful, lush, layered synths of pieces “Pitié Pour Mes Larmes” (featuring slide guitar here, which is an interesting translation of a particular studio sound), “L’Absent,” and “Seule.” And then there’s the more cognitive workout of the blips and bleeps of pieces like “Crépuscule.” Finally, there’s actually a third level where it all comes together and you integrate the other two levels, appreciating the 52 minutes as a magnificent work of instrumentation, composition, and performance.
It’s really an amazing work and I’m so, so happy I got to spend more time with it. Maybe if “L’absent” didn’t drag quite as much or “Nuit Silencieuse” translated to a live setting better, this could be five clowns. I’m at least going to right the wrong of several years ago, though, and give this four-and-a-half clowns, which is a half-[clown] more than I gave the CD and at least what it deserved.
- Roskilde is, of course, now synonymous with the Pearl Jam tragedy. It looks like they’re in a club during the day, though. There’s a low ceiling and you can see outside.
- This is in black and white.
- That guitarist, who’s totally awesome, looks so scary.
- This whole band rules.
- John Kaada and the five other non-Patton band members are all Norwegian. So why are the song titles in French?
- Names to consider naming Next: Geir, Erland, Hallvard, Børge. Joakim, Rasmus, Jan, Mads, Rikke, Svein, Siv, Reidar, Ove, Rai, Pål.
- I think the sound, which isn’t bad, but isn’t as lush as the studio, might hurt things here. That middle stuff is hard in the studio, too, but here even the great parts don’t sound as great. Later: I’ve come to reconcile this as the price you pay for having this performed in a live context. See the review for my evolution on that.
- Intro – band walking in and all that.
- Legless Liss – Not on album. The bassist pulls off the whistling “cadence from hell.”
- Invocation – Here the album starts.
- Pitié Pour Mes Larmes – “One is for the money, ….” The guit is doing a slide thing here that I don’t remember from the album. Gives it a country feel.
- Aubade – This is probably the hardest point of the show, especially for an audience member who didn’t have the scaffolding of knowing the album available. When it looks like Mike’s singing he’s just making noises with his mouth, and you can barely hear that. The sound is working here, there’s just very little to hear. When they do come back big, it is nice. I don’t know if the length and depth of the quiet stretch is justified, though. There’s also a fake fade out ending followed by yet another big comeback.
- L’Absent – Sounds like a recorded backup choir, which I don’t remember from the cd. The sparse quiet part in here, which is basically just the guitarist playing chords slowly for several bars, is too long and just doesn’t hold together live. This is a great DVD, but these sparse parts don’t work in this setting…it’s too hard to stay focused. That’s its biggest liability. Later: Again, I largely reconciled this after re-acquainting myself with the CD.
- Crepuscule –
- Viens, Les Gazons Sont Verts – This is the comeback song where they start to make it all work again for the new listener.
- Seule –
- Pensée Des Morts –
- Nuit Silencieuse –
- The Cloroform Theme – The other track that’s not on the album. This one’s pretty cool. Credits here, too. Cloroform is Kaada’s band.
- Handwritten copyright notification and warning
- Rehearsal Film – This is 16:32 long. The sad music (“Seule,” I think) at the end is kind of funny but it also kind of works. Shows them loading into a tent at the end.
- Photo Gallery – Unnecessary. In fact I think these are stills from the show now that I’ve seen both at least a couple of times. 58 pics.