Steve Poltz: Digital Video Disc - Live at the Basement
Warner Vision/Warner Vision .
R4 . COLOR . 90 mins .
E . PAL
If you’ve ever wondered what you’d get if you spliced together genes from Don McLean, a They Might Be Giant (either one would do) and Kermit the Frog then you’re obviously rather strange. Mind you, if you popped the result into threads nabbed from Billy Ray Cyrus’ incredibly unenviable wardrobe you’d probably have a little Steve Poltz running amok in your midst.
Having run out of live music establishments to convert into pokies venues, the developers started on the performers...
Possibly best pigeonholed as having folk leanings, this known cohort of Jewel has a natty line in humour imbuing the majority of his works, although he can also do the tender, sweet ballad thing quite gorgeously thankyouverymuch if he’s in the mood. For this performance, captured on tape for all posterity quite recently at Sydney’s rather renowned Basement night club, the emphasis leans more towards the funnies, with tales of killing famous actors (poor Walter!), odes to chairs, stories of picking up hookers, cautionary tales about hitchhikers and even an elegy to Star Wars which should have spottier viewers giggling incessantly and snorting up their Jolt Cola. Throw into the mix the odd ditty about good relationships, the odd ditty about bad relationships, an ‘ABC’ which would make any resident of Sesame Street blush redder than the reddest of ruddy things (umm, Elmo would probably have to go purple), covers of TLC and Prince tracks and even some short little takes on some Poltzerised answering machine messages (complete with authentic-ish beeps, natch) and you have a remarkably entertaining hour and a half, especially considering it’s just one bloke standing on a stage with a guitar who’s carrying the whole show.
Replete with sizeable chunks of winning in-between song banter, such as pimping his sister to Elvis at a young age in hopes of landing a record deal, this engaging full-length gig never goes anywhere near inspiring a reach for the fast forward button, remaining remarkably entertaining and even sometimes laugh-out-loud-like-a-git funny throughout.
The Chair Song
I Want to Learn About Love
Everything About You
Look to the East
Good Morning (Waking Up With You)
Doo Doo Blues Take Number 48
The Star Wars Song
I Killed Walter Matthau
You Were Meant For Me
ABCs of Love
The Medical Career
Monkeys Coming Out of Your Ass
Little Red Corvette
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
For such a recent recording, it’s quite a surprise to discover nothing but a full frame transfer on offer. As far as such things go – a live performance caught on videotape with lots of bright lights hovering about – the picture is OK, without ever achieving anything resembling greatness. Colour comes up fairly nicely, the blacks are suitably inky and detail is such that the horrendously garish number adorning Mr Poltz (surely the result of a lost bet?) exhibits much more detail than I daresay most viewers would wish for. As Poltz’s weapon of choice is a guitar, our old foe aliasing does tend to pop up and go “boo!” at reasonably regular intervals.
The audio side of things is quite pleasing, with a perfectly synched Dolby Digital 5.1 mix offered up that’s more than adequate for a solo performer such as this. As this has actually been mixed well, the majority of the music bounces about the front soundstage, with rears used to add a little ambience to the intimacy of proceedings. The subwoofwoof remains essentially dormant, but would sound decidedly out of place if it was bouncing all over the place anyway.
A few extras add some further value to the disc, starting with an interview. Conducted in-house for the Basement’s online radio station by the rather in-your-face Cleo Glyde, it runs for around 14 minutes, punctuated with off-the-cuff performances of The Star Wars Song and Beautiful Day, while two bonus, studio-recorded examples of Poltz’s more tender side are included in Stax and Ten Chances. Audio is only present in Dolby Digital stereo.
It may actually be doing a disservice to Steve lumping him in the folk basket, for it could possibly put many people off checking this out. If you’re partial to a spot of humour in your music, however, then this shiny example of Mr Poltz’s rather unique world view may be one of the better surprise packages you’ll come across all year.
Jack & Sarah "Proving that simplicity is no obstruction to brilliance, this is an ultimately sweet (but not sickeningly so) tale that gives all those bigger English films out there a more than respectable run for their money... "