This is the best concert DVD I own.
Mark Lahren | Bismarck, North Dakota USA | 11/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Brief qualification is in order: While I am a Blondie fan, I am hardly their biggest fan, nor am I an expert on this group. I bought their first album on the Private Stock label in 1976 when I was 16, and loved it to death. When they became mega-famous is when I lost all interest (unfair on my part I know), only to have my love for the group rekindled when I heard "Atomic" on the radio for the first time. So I owned a few of their albums. That's my only qualification to write this review.
I currently own 3 Blondie concert DVDs and 1 on VHS tape. All have their good and bad points, but "Live 99" (this one) is my stand-out favorite. The audio isn't quite as good as the 2004 A&E DVD, but in my mind, the '99 concert just shines due to the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
This DVD was shot using a good number of cameras. They're seemingly placed at every strategic position, and the editing is just wonderful. Nice pacing to the camera-switches, and the editor always chose the view I wanted to be looking at. In other words, I never found myself wishing for a better view. There are even a few distance shots from the audience perspective, including a nice balcony shot, giving you a good idea of what it might have been like to have been there. I've never seen Blondie live, but after seeing this, I'd give just about anything to do it now.
Let me get this out of the way. Blondie is a band. I fully realize that. But I cannot help singling out Deborah Harry for a moment. As a young man, I was never particularly attracted to the way she looked. She seemed a bit too made-up for my taste at the time. But either my tastes have changed, or she has. Because I must say that she is absolutely hypnotic and captivating here, in her appearance, attitude, body language, and voice. She was 54 when this was filmed, and is drop-dead gorgeous. She has never looked or sounded better, and there is some nice audience interaction. And every time she smiled, my heart flipped.
Enough of that.
Clem Burke is one of the best drummers around, and he's always been a rock-solid feature of the band as long as I can remember. Jimmy Destri is here too, which is very cool, as his keyboarding was a highlight of that original album I loved so much. Chris Stein does some nice guitar work, though I wish it could have been brought out a bit more in the audio. You can clearly hear his distinctive style, but it is somewhat buried from time to time. And I think Leigh Foxx (bass) and Paul Carbonara (guitar) have been around long enough that they could be made a part of the official band. It took some time for me to adjust to them being there, but after watching this DVD now over 20 times, the band wouldn't be the same without them. Carbonara does good work, with very nice leads, and Foxx plays a mean bass, and is even allowed a fairly lengthy bass solo during "Atomic".
And speaking of "Atomic", it's the climax of the set. The last song before the 2 encores. And it is played to perfection. I loved the studio version of this song already, but this extended live version is better yet.
Other highlights: * "Dreaming": The opener, gets the blood pumping.
* "Screaming Skin" didn't do much for me on the studio CD, but Harry really brings it to life here. Took me by surprise...Way out of proportion! Next to "Atomic", it's my favorite selection.
* "Shayla/Union City Blue": The entire band just floored me with this performance.
* "In The Flesh": Is Deborah Harry Marilyn Monroe reincarnated? It's easy to believe watching this. She's positively radiant.
* "Sunday Girl": See above.
Really, they do a beautiful job with every song here. If you're already a Blondie fan, you likely already own this. And if you're on the fence about which DVD to buy, I say look no further. I own maybe 50 total concert DVDs. This is my favorite. Bar none.
There is also an audio CD that comes with this set, which I pretty much ignored until just now, since I had assumed it was merely an audio transfer from the DVD. I was wrong. While the CD appears to have been recorded very near the same timeframe as the DVD, the setlist is slightly different, and the audio is completely different. A different concert, perhaps a few days before or after, if my ears are any judge.
This is a very good thing!
I didn't really need a straight DVD audio transfer anyway, since if I want to 'listen' to that, I'd just as soon pop the DVD in so I could see it too.
The audio on the CD is sometimes close to the DVD audio, but in other cases the arrangements of the songs are different, giving a completely different experience. And the sound is excellent!
No doubt about it: Given the choice between the DVD-only version, and this DVD/CD set, I'd recommend this set without reservation. The CD is really worth the minimal extra cost. I believe the CD was also released separately, so if you already have just the DVD alone, you should still be able to find the audio CD pretty easily--the jacket has the same artwork in case you run across it somewhere."