Blackfield – NYC: Blackfield Live in New York City

blackfield

By Sean Palmerston

This is probably the least metal thing that has ever been reviewed to date on Hellbound.ca, but I think when you take into consideration who is in this band it will likely make a little bit more sense that it is reviewed here.

Blackfield, for those unfamiliar, is a side project of Porcupine Tree front man Steven Wilson and Israeli pop star Aviv Geffen. The story goes that Geffen, who apparently is a very big deal at home, became so enamoured with PT that he brought them to Israel for a tour, struck up a friendship with Wilson and convinced him to start a band, from which Blackfield was born. Unsurprisingly, with Wilson involved there is quite a lot in Blackfield’s sound that diehard PT fans will like. Many of the songs contain his soaring signature guitar sound and he sings about half of the songs. However, having said that, the songs that Geffen sings aren’t all that different either. The two work well together and anyone that likes the most straightforward Porcupine Tree material would be well advised to go out and search out Blackfield’s two studio albums.

NYC is the band’s first live DVD, filmed at New York’s famed Bowery Ballroom on March 16, 2007. Originally released as a DVD only, it has now been reissued as a two disc set, with the entire performance now also available as on CD too. The band sticks pretty much to Blackfield material, playing everything but one song from their second album II and also including nearly all of the first album too. The performances of these songs in a live setting don’t differ greatly from the studio versions. If you have those records already you may not need this collection unless you are an absolute Wilson-aholic that absolutely needs everything he does (and I know there are a lot of you out there, that is for certain). Along with the Blackfield material, there are also a few covers, some of which are songs from Geffen’s solo career and, believe it or not, an Alanis Morrisette cover. The band tackles her 1997 radio hit “Thank You” and does an admirable job with it, with Wilson adding some very tasteful slide guitar. I would have rather heard them stick in a PT track, but well, it is what it is and it’s not bad for being just that.

As for the DVD portion of the collection, this is pretty much your standard by-the-numbers live DVD. The band is live in a decent sized club, the footage of the band is filmed with multiple digital cameras – if I had to guess I’d say at least six – and it is competent enough in a workman like manner. There are no real surprises here visually, with the exception of the absolute awful glitter eyeshadow and make up that Geffen is wearing on stage. He looks a little goofy to me, truth be told, but proves himself to be both a decent keyboardist and acoustic guitar player. I’m not a huge fan of his voice, but it works well within the context of the band. As for bonus materials, the DVD contains three music videos, all of which were directed by Lasse Hoile, who also did the direction of the main DVD too. Neat to watch once or twice, but nothing that you will find yourself going back to over and over again. The same can be said for this set as a whole. It is cool, it’s something that is nice to watch once or twice, but I cannot see going back to it over and over again. Definitely an occasional view at best.

(K-Scope/Snapper)

Rating: 6.5

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.