There is nothing overtly bad about Reel Big Fish’s latest DVD release, Live! In Concert!, except it is the third live DVD and/or CD to be released by the band in the last seven years, and seems phoned-in and wholly unnecessary at this point.
To be fair, the DVD offers fans exactly what it promises: one full 20-song live set taped Jan. 4, 2009 in Anaheim, Calif., at the beginning of the Fame, Fortune and Fornication Tour. And virtually nothing else. An extra chapter offers some “backstage shenanigans,” but it is akin to a guy carrying a camera around a family reunion. Everyone is just hanging out; they don’t seem to want to be filmed; and the viewer gets nothing interesting out of any of the subjects. But maybe the subjects find it fun to watch themselves on camera later.
The set list is roughly half new, compared to the last release, Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album, working in songs from the band’s mediocre Monkeys for Nothin’ and the Chimps for Free full-length and the lackluster Fame, Fortune and Fornication covers effort. Unfortunately, that means better songs were booted to make space. And the last effort already did “live” so much better with two packed CDs and a more extensive DVD.
While Reel Big Fish can be an incredibly fun band to see live, the similarities of the band’s recent releases make it evident that what they do can be best described as a schtick, and even the band seems to be growing tired of the schtick, as there is nothing special to be found in this particular performance. Even the camera crew seems bored. Thankfully, the editing is well done, opting for sustained shots rather than the spastic music video cuts of many live shows, but none of the angles or camera movements are particularly exciting. It feels like a live show any amateur filmmaker could have shot without much effort.
Unfortunately, that sums up the entire release -- not much effort. A show was taped. A show was edited. It was pressed and put in a box with boring artwork and no extra material. It is hard not to feel like this is the epitome of a cash-in targeted at die-hard fans and another way to prolong writing a new album. Live! In Concert! is redundant and not worth anyone’s cash, longtime fan or not.