Eminem Live From New York City, Blu-ray (2005/2009)
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment EVBRD 333439
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 color, 1080i HD
Audio: English DTS, Dolby 5.1, LPCM Stereo
Length: 78 mins.
It’s time to face it: Even if you won’t admit it now, you once liked Eminem. If you’re in your early to mid-twenties there probably was a time where you liked at least one or two Eminem songs. “Slim Shady” has of course released several albums since the Marshall Mathers LP, either with D12 or as a solo artist, that have garnered less critical acclaim, but still been appreciated by a large group of rabid fans. And more power to them: His newer work may not be this critic’s style, but Eminem continues to resonate on a real emotional level with thousands if not millions of fans, as shown on Eagle Vision’s recent release Eminem: Live From New York City.
The film opens with one of several fictional backstage segments in which Eminem contemplates suicide. These short bits are largely unnecessary, but they are a standard part of his mythos and his fans respond strongly. Eminem starts the concert off with Evil Deeds, one of the only songs he performs without the assistance of the late Proof or other members of his band, D12. Many rappers are unable to flow live with the ease and ability they can in the studio, but even if you don’t care for the beat or the song overall, any rap fan must admit Eminem’s flow is meticulous and impeccable.
Eminem proceeds to play a number of newer songs off The Eminem Show and Encore including Mosh, Business, and Ass Like That. He has a tremendous chemistry with his audience, who appear to have memorized every word of every song he has ever written. The Blu-ray treatment vividly captures not only the massive set which changes with each song, but the thousands of fans lip-synching every moment.
Like Toy Soldiers offers Eminem a chance to have the spotlight essentially solo again and he gives what may be his strongest performance of the night, slipping out of the rapid flow, faux-falsetto that characterizes some of his later work into a more naturally-toned delivery with a more natural flow. The performance is especially poignant given the song’s subject matter: Eminem’s concern for his friends and the trouble they get into. This film was made nine months before the tragic death of Eminem’s bandmate and close friend Proof.
After another backstage segment, Eminem returns to play Stan, The Way I Am, and Just Don’t Give A F***k, three of his most popular classic songs. He chooses, however, only to play the first verse and chorus of each, mixing three songs into one medley. Eminem then takes a break and lets label mate Obie Trice and Atlanta rapper Stat Quo deliver four songs. The two rappers have lots of energy, and the audience responds with the same fervor with which they respond to Slim Shady himself.
Eminem then performs two of his more personal songs, Cleaning Out My Closet and Mockingbird. The performance of Mockingbird is touching, with the large screen behind him showing pictures of his daughter, and Eminem rapping sincerely about her, a subject close to his heart throughout his entire career.
The concert closes with Lose Yourself, always one of his best songs, and he throws himself into it. His flow is compelling, building in intensity and speed as if trying to outrun the melody and the opportunity the song describes as about to pass him by.
Throughout the film, Eminem holds nothing back from his beloved fans, and gives them a show they’ll never forget. This disc is a must for devoted Eminem fans, who should continue loving Slim Shady even if music snobs like yours truly are left out.
– Ethan Krow