A Tail of 2 Cities DVD
Release Date: 9/16/08
A Tail of 2 Cities
Most of you who have followed our career, and/or listened to or watched our previous "live" releases, know that what we're interested in capturing is a moment in time. Since every show is different from the next (from the set list to the approach) it's obvious that we're not looking to achieve perfection (either musical or technical) but to preserve the magic of the evening. Most of our previous "live" releases were plagued with gremlins (some avoidable, some unavoidable) but were chosen in spite of this because we felt there was something unique and special about those particular performances. The fact that there were technical obstacles only convinced us even more and made us work harder to preserve them (nothing good comes easy). These shows for the most part are no exception.
A good rule of thumb as far as filming a "live" show would be: Never film the first show of the tour or the last show of the tour. The first show finds everyone nervous and still settling in. The last show, on the contrary, people are tired and ready to go home. Never being ones for rules of thumb, this package represents the first show of the "Deja Voodoo" tour and the last show of the "High and Mighty" tour. Both were filmed for possible TV shows. The dates and locations were picked for logistical reasons. When reviewing all the shows filmed in the last few years these stood out.
Now let's talk about gremlins. First off, the company that filmed the Boston show, which came off virtually without a hitch, had since gone out of business making it nearly, but not completely, impossible to deal with on a technical level. We loved the show and always love the Boston crowd, however the longer it took to cut through the red tape, the more the clock was ticking and not only had we written and recorded a new CD's worth of material but the arrangements of the Deja Voodoo material had since grown making this show less and less timely as a release. Still we kept going back to it as a performance.
Fast forward. Winter of 2006. It's the end of a great tour and we're ready for a break. Still we're pumped to play to an always great Chi-town crowd. First set kicks off-gremlins already. In the midst of the quiet intro to "Blind Man In The Dark", the keyboard rig starts making a God awful noise but is quickly fixed. Not exactly how you want to begin filming a DVD but still a good first set.
Second set is feeling great. Then in the middle of "Mother Earth" Matt's drum stool collapses and he nearly falls to the floor - but somehow continues playing. No worries. Band is flowing-building momentum. Game Face goes into Mt. Jam back into Game Face, then all of a sudden at that quiet moment where the bass and guitar are trading riffs, building up steam, almost on cue-total darkness. The power goes out. At first we think it's just in the theater (maybe we're drawing too much power in the old building with the filming and all). Again Matt keeps playing, thankfully, then eventually the whole band is behind the drum kit playing an impromptu eight-armed drum solo that is being filmed via battery back-up and flashlights and is being recorded only by the mics in the battery operated cameras. The whole time we're thinking that the power is gonna come back on any minute. No such luck. Eventually the drum circle ends and we walk off stage in the darkness only to be told by the promoter that the power has gone out on the entire block and that, for safety reasons, we have to evacuate the building. Reluctantly I walk out to the edge of the stage to try and calm down a rambunctious Chicago crowd long enough to tell them that we have to evacuate and just as I start to explain the power comes back on. We gather the troops and start back at the same moment of "Game Face", just intending to finish the show, with no expectations of being able to salvage the recording/filming.
Fast forward. Sure enough the multi-track audio of the entire second set has been wiped out by the computer due to the power outage. Thankfully everything else is intact but upon listening to the source audio it seems to pale in comparison to the first set which has since been re-mixed from the multi-tracks. Plan B - we listen to Slim's Mule Tracks mix which, although it had been challenged by the gremlins of the evening, still sounds quite good. Hopefully, with the help of E.Q., compression and adding some additional audience mics, we will be able to make it sound compatible with the first set.
Meanwhile, during the panic of not knowing, our thoughts had turned to a previous idea. At one point we had toyed with the idea of releasing the highlights of several shows on DVD. This idea was shelved due to the realization that our fans prefer entire shows, warts and all. Perhaps, though, we could combine the first set of Chicago with one of the sets from the Boston show. Upon looking at the set list for Boston it dawned on us that there were very few songs repeated between the two shows. Then when we got the good news from Michael Barbiero about the audio being usable for the second set we breathed a sigh of relief. Hallelujah. Maybe we should just release them both together in their entirety. Hence, "A Tail of Two Cities". -WH