Pat Metheny Group – We Live Here – Live in Japan (1995/2013)

by | May 13, 2013 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

Pat Metheny Group – We Live Here – Live in Japan (1995/2013)

Performers: Pa Metheny, guitar/guitar synths; Lyle Mays, piano/keyboards; Steve Rodby, acoustic & elec. bass; Paul Wetico, drums; David Blamires, vocals/misc. instr.; Mark Ledford, vocals/misc. instr.; Armando Marcal, percussion
Program: Have You Heard, And Then I Knew, Here to Stay, First Circle, Scrap Metal, Farmer’s Trust, Episode D’Azur, Third Wind, This Is Not America, Antonia, To the End of the World, Minuano (Six-Eight), Stranger in Town
Studio: Warner Music Japan/ Eagle Vision EV305749
Director: Takayuki Watanabe
Video: 4:3 color
Audio: English DD stereo
Extras: Short performer interviews prior to some selections
Length: 110 minutes
Rating: ****

A fine Metheny videotaped concert for both his fans and most anyone else. Though in 4:3 aspect ratio somehow when I played it back 16:9 the performers didn’t look too fat as usual. The concert differs from some of the other Metheny material on video in that it is more Brazilian-influenced and features a number of wordless vocals. Two singers—who also play trumpet, guitar and on occasion other instruments such as accordion—are placed on risers in the back and provide an interesting backing to Metheny’s solos. The concert takes place on a set of sorts. There is also a great variety of instrumental color featured in Metheny’s original compositions, both with the usual instrumental lineup and occasionally bringing in a new sound, such as that of the accordion in “Antonia.”  The percussionist says in his interview that he was surprised to learn for one new piece he had to learn the marimba, which he hadn’t previously played.

There is a pleasing variety of mood among the 13 tracks, and several are prefaced by short talking-heading interviews with the members of the band.  Then the selection that follows in the concert usually illustrates something the performer had spoken about in the interview—such as the selection with accordion. Metheny plays a variety of imposing-looking electric guitars, some with whole panels of knobs on them. The lighting setup is also most involved and dramatic.  It is sometimes synchronized to the music and adds to the excitement of the presentation. On one number as the music builds and builds toward a huge climax, there are storm sound effects and even smoke as the lighting goes nuts and finally concludes in darkness. The extensive Japanese camera crew and director do a fine job of capturing the concert on video, often using the lighting variations to their advantage.

I wondered why Metheny chose to use Dolby Stereo on the sound instead of  higher-fidelity PCM Stereo or even DTS 5.1.  Most of his other videos have been in surround.  Perhaps with such a lengthy concert there wasn’t enough storage space left on a standard DVD for the more space-demanding formats.

—John Henry

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