Black Country Communion - Live Over Europe

Mascot Records
Produced by Kevin Shirley

After a remarkably successful period for the Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa fronted supergroup which saw the release of two albums in under a year and some high profile touring, this double-DVD sets out to chronicle that time with live material recorded at several shows in Europe.

That will have set some alarm bells off for some people already. History already shows that concert films compiled from several shows are usually incoherent and end up being nothing like watching an actual concert. There are only really three things to avoid when recording a live show for DVD, leaving good quality video and audio as a given: disjointed compiling of multiple shows, silly video effects, and interrupting the flow of the show with interviews.

All three can ruin a concert film. With Live Over Europe Black Country Communion have done all three, relegating it to the "could have been" pile alongside many other wasted opportunities, when it should have been so much more. But before that, first and foremost, the audio and video quality. The video is uniformally excellent. Shot in full HD it looks outstanding. With the audio though they've somehow achieved a very harsh sound, almost like every instrument is too bright in an attempt to make sure they're all heard. Perhaps the intention was to make it sound "raw". But everything is incredibly clear, and eventually the sound becomes familiar enough that its harshness can be overlooked.

So it looks great and more or less sounds great. Apply some sensible editing and that's job done then. Too easy? Apparently so.

The set starts off, after a thoroughly cheesy Hollywood movie trailer style intro, at an indoor show in Munich. Across the beginning of opening track Black Country is a soundbite from Glenn Hughes which lasts about four seconds for absolutely no apparent reason; all it does is interfer with the song. It could be hoped this is just a solitary blip but there's more to come. Not too much, it has to said, but that actually makes the presence of what little there is even more unnecessary. Just when things are getting into their stride four songs in, it fades out to black and white road footage and then into an outdoor show in Berlin, where it remains for the next seven songs, needlessly breaking them up on occasion with more interviews. The last segment is spent at another outdoor show in Hamburg. So that's disjointed compiling of multiple shows: check. Interrupting the flow of the show with interviews: check.

Which leaves silly video effects. In Munich the footage has had the colours washed out a little and then had the contrast cranked up. To begin with there are also lots of weird and unnecessary zooming and blurring effects going on, but they settle down after a song or two of the segment and much of the remaining editing is sensible and controlled. When switching to Berlin for The Battle For Hadrian's Wall the editor seems to sit and play with the blurring knob at will, just to see what effects can be created. The contrast is also up on this footage, but without the washed-out colours, so it at least serves to make things look vibrant, if a little plastic-music-video. The least-tampered-with footage is Hamburg, but the blurring and zooming is still in full effect.

At least the cutting between different shows isn't done from song to song, at least there aren't several minutes of interviews and they're not in the middle of songs, and at least there are long periods of good editing and several back-to-back songs. "At least" is enough to not have completely ruined the excellent recordings, but still isn't really good enough because there's no need for any of it. When it's clear that all of the footage recorded for this is very high quality, why mess with it? Yet again what should have been an incredible live document isn't, and for no good reason.

“ should have been so much more ”

DVD 1 - Black Country / One Last Soul / Crossfire / Save Me / The Battle For Hadrian's Wall / Beggarman / Faithless / Song of Yesterday / I Can See Your Spirit / Cold / The Ballad of John Henry / The Outsider / The Great Divide / Sista Jane / Man In The Middle / Burn
DVD 2 - Forging BCC / The Making of Live Over Europe / BCC Photo Collection

Photo(s): Andy Lye

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2011, Hard/Heavy Rock, Live DVDs, , ,

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