"Live in Houston"

(Eagle Vision)

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RATING: 6.5/10

Hardly a comprehensive examination of the VELVET REVOLVER experience, much less one that moves beyond 2004's "Contraband" debut, the "Live in Houston" DVD does capture well the band's energetic performance during one night in 2005. While brief segments of historical narrative are included throughout, at 78 minutes one shouldn't expect much in the way of bang for the buck.

But for those with a hankerin' for VELVET REVOLVER material from "Contraband", as well as a handful of STONE TEMPLE PILOTS and GUNS N' ROSES classics, "Live in Houston" should be more than satisfactory for fans. Opening with three rather pedestrian tracks from the debut album ("Sucker Train Blues", "Do it for the Kids", and "Headspace") won't turn skeptics into fans, but STONE TEMPLE PILOTS vocalist Scott Weiland, GUNS N ROSES alumni Matt Sorum (drums), Duff McKagan (bass), Slash (lead guitar), and ex-WASTED YOUTH guitarist Dave Kushner rock it like they mean it. By the time the band gets around to performing power ballad "Fall to Pieces" and the hype-deserving "Slither", the blandness of those opening songs is almost forgotten. The versions of STONE TEMPLE PILOTS' "Crackerman" and "Sex Type Thing" (the encore), and GUNS N ROSES' "Illegal I", "It's So Easy", and "Used to Love Her" fit pretty well amidst the VELVET REVOLVER tracks and, for the most part, boost energy levels. No complaints about sound and the visuals are competent, if not exactly high-tech. You may also find yourself pleading for a shirtless and emaciated Weiland to eat a damn sandwich.

If all you care about is the gig, then you'll be pleased with "Live in Houston". The quintet puts on a show that may not always be incendiary (due to the tepidity of some tunes), but is certainly a hot one. It doesn't hurt that the guys seem to be enjoying themselves, although one can't always tell with Weiland. The member commentary about the formation of the band and its inner workings is fine, but nothing you couldn't get from Wikipedia. The only puzzling part is the periodic appearance of a stereotypical Sunset Strip blonde woman wearing an outfit straight out of the Third Reich who answers a series of odd questions. Well, it's not so much puzzling as it is stupid. Otherwise, "Live in Houston" is solid, but far from essential.


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