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May 11, 2006
RATING: 5/10 ?

Moby is an interesting phenomenon. At one point, about ten years ago, Moby was an underground electronic sensation, spinning thumping house music and making a couple of really great albums: Everything is Wrong and, under the moniker Voodoo Child, The End of Everything. After the poor reception of Moby's so-called "alternative" album Animal Rights, Moby took stock of his assets and released Play. We all know the Microsoft marketing sensation that Play turned into and that, for all of its hype, the album relied far too heavily on the vintage soul, roots and hip hop samples Moby incorporated throughout the tracks. Play is one of those albums that most people own - especially those who don't own a lot of music. Play has some really catchy moments but, as I said before, its greatest moments are provided by the other artists who are sampled over Moby's now replayed-out sea of synth.

The concert captured on this disc was filmed before of 6,000 moderately happy fans at a hall in Leuven, Belgium, last year. It isn't a flashy affair. Anyone expecting a large screen projection, laser show or a floating pig will be sorely disappointed. This is barebones save for some bright multi-color lighting and Moby's occasional guitar rock poses which are frankly ridiculous. Moby's band is also spare with a second guitar, keys, bass, drums and I am guessing some kind of sampling device - which is never shown.

Musically speaking, every song is refined and danceable to the point that the band actually reproduces the sound of Moby's albums quite effectively. I am not sure but most of Moby's vocals sounded enhanced or altered to aid his performance which gives some of the tracks a much needed boost while detracting from others. There are a few of the Play samples at work here, the Treacherous Three for instance can be heard during "Bodyrock" and other songs sample a few of the classic Lomax field recordings. Unfortunately, Moby often mistakenly uses female vocalist Laura Dawn instead of the original artists he sampled, such as blues legend Vera Hall. Dawn is a talented singer and has an interesting stage charisma but her vocals are not nearly as soulful as Hall's and the show suffers for it.

There are a few diverse cover tunes on the disc. Surprisingly, the best song on the whole DVD is the one I was most certain that Moby would fuck up. When vocalist Laura Dawn began to sing New Order's "Temptation," I got nervous. However after the first minute I became convinced that New Order ought to try playing "Temptation" in this down tempo, lyrically conscious style. Other covers include: "That's When I Reach for My Revolver," "Walk on the Wild Side" and possibly the most lame, American Idol-esque, cover of The Doors' "Break on Through" as sung by Moby's guitar player.

Moby's banter with the audience is kept to a minimum. Moby, of course, bashes George Bush and America's conservative trend. Despite the language barrier the audience cheers when Moby says "fuck you" to the stifling heat that had turned the concert into an excessively sweaty affair. They continued to cheer anytime the word fuck was used again - which shows that even Belgians think naughty words are fucking funny. Moby ended the show with words of gratitude for the audience and spectacular rendition of "Feeling So Real."

Extras on the DVD include several promo videos, one of which features computer animated cats with enormous heads and another in which a Furry party turns into a violent, suicidal orgy. There is also an extra where Moby uses a fish puppet to discuss objects, such as his keys, in a funny voice . . . clearly Moby's, now famous, encounter with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog left an indelible mark. The DVD also has a couple of sound options for the audiophiles in Moby's fan base as well as a CD's worth of remixes by various artists with names like Booka, Zloot and Mylo which I am sure is an incentive to pick this up for someone. However, the thing I am unsure of is who exactly is the target audience for this product? The biggest Moby fan I know is my mom. I am fairly certain that she would be uninterested in this show. I don't know anyone off hand who is a Moby fanatic and it seems to me that really only Moby fanatics would have an interest in this disc. With the exception of the "Temptation" cover, you can find equally compelling performances on any of Moby's albums and, visually speaking, holding those same album covers up to a black light would be only slightly less fun than watching this show.

This DVD release treads solidly on middle ground, neither great nor terrible. It exists in the nebulous realm of live in concert docs located somewhere between the fecal pool of Yanni: Live at The Acropolis and azure waters of perfection known as Stop Making Sense. On a scale from one to ten, a mediocre five is about all Moby warrants this time around.

SEE ALSO: www.moby.com
SEE ALSO: www.mobyhotel.com
SEE ALSO: www.mute.com

Jon Burke
A contributing writer and a Chicago resident who will not be goaded by LASís editor into revealing any more details about his potentially sordid affairs.

See other articles by Jon Burke.



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