DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Ten Years After - 'Live At Fiesta City' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 13, 2010    
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Splendid DVD and a recommended purchase not only to TYA fans

Ten Years After? Well…for me it’s the best part of forty years after I last saw this hugely entertaining combo play live and to say that I was sceptical about what I would see and hear on this DVD would be an understatement. I shall provide a little historical background before providing an insight into ‘Live At Fiesta City’…

TYA has a recording history that stretches back to 1967 when they unleashed their eponymously-titled debut album. They swerved around the “difficult second album” scenario by releasing a live album (‘Undead’), and followed this in 1969 with the remarkable ‘Stonedhenge’. This is when I first saw the band, with their charismatic guitarist/vocalist Alvin Lee. A further seven albums followed in quick succession and these revealed a band attempting to become more “commercial”. In 1974, TYA disbanded. They reunited briefly in 1983 and played the Reading Festival and again briefly towards the end of the decade, when they released ‘About Time’ (which was quite a decent album, even where they morph into ‘Eliminator’-era ZZ Top as they do on three of the tracks!).

These days, original vocalist/guitarist Alvin Lee plays and records as a solo artist, so the remaining founder members of the band (Leo Lyons, bass; Chick Churchill, keyboards; Ric Lee, drums) recruited Joe Gooch as a replacement front man and this line up has a couple of studio albums and a live double CD to their name. This is their first DVD and my first acquaintance with TYA since their reformation. The story behind the recruitment of Gooch along with other fascinating insights (including one that as 75% of the original TYA they are not a cover version of this band, and another as to why this is their first DVD) makes for interesting viewing, but it is their performance at Verviers in Belgium at the end of August in 2008 and captured here in its completely raw state, without any overdubs, that should win over any doubters.

For those of you totally unfamiliar with TYA, they are a band that sits on the cusp of blues, rock and rock ‘n’ roll. They play in a fluid, almost languid style at times, but also move into overdrive once they slide into the improvised jams that have always been a signature feature of the band’s live performances. Joe Gooch manages to insert the classic riffs and licks of his illustrious predecessor, but has also developed his own stylings and personality in a way that retains the essence of the original band, but has moved it forward with the three “old” guys in a manner that has built upon its quintessential qualities, energy and original spirit.

The complete performance captured here comprises nine tracks plus encore running for slightly less than 80 minutes. This is about 30 minutes shorter than the band’s usual live set, yet provides an excellent perspective of the band as it now is, and with a song selection that weaves really old favourites (such as ‘Hear Me Calling’, ‘I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes’ and ‘I’m Going Home’), mid-period classics (‘Love Like A Man’, ‘Working On The Road’, ‘Choo Choo Mama’ and ‘Good Morning Little Schoolgirl’) with some of the slightly newer stuff (‘King Of The Blues’ and ‘Big Black 45’). The other track included here is drummer Ric Lee’s ‘The Hobbit’ which is his showcase drum (and cymbal) solo. I know that debate rages about such excesses/showcases (select to your preference) but here we have a unique take on the concept. My personal favourites are the three songs that develop into improvised jams, as they transport me back to a musical era that I still remember very fondly.

The audio quality is really excellent and the multi-camera imagery and editing of this DVD captures a band that does not have an especially dynamic stage presence as effectively as possible, as well as contextualising the outdoor setting in the centre of town.
This is a splendid DVD and is a recommended purchase not only to TYA fans old and new but also to anybody who enjoys their rock with a blues tinge, and those of you who have jumped aboard the phenomenon that is Joe Bonamassa really should check this out, as I do not think you will be disappointed.

Paul Jerome Smith

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