"Live in Chicago"

(Sanctuary Records 2004)Ween - Live in Chicago

Sometimes you just have to be there to see it. Oftentimes, concert videos reproduce a band's live show as well as a fireworks display can be reproduced on an eight inch black and white TV: not too well. Fortunately, "Ween/Live in Chicago," Ween's long-awaited first live DVD, is a concert video in full color, sweat, sound, and smoke. While it does not capture the full intensity of a live Ween show, there are still incredible moments that deserve the use of the rewind button.

Ween "Live in Chicago" was recorded during two nights on November 8th and 9th, 2003 at Chicago's Vic Theater. The two sets were recorded and edited together into one concert, with a setlist that is representative of Ween's live set at that time, which was in support of their then new album "Quebec." On stage is a classic Ween lineup: Gene Ween is performing for the crowd, Dean Ween is playing the guitar in top form, Glenn McClelland is subtly embellishing the music with his keyboard work, Dave Drewitz (of Instant Death) is keeping the bass pounding, and Claude Coleman, fully recovered from a terrible car accident, is skillfully and quite naturally beating the drums. The band is in top form and well-rehearsed, and old and new songs are mixed into the set. Ween - Live in ChicagoFavorites such as "Spinal Meningitis Got Me Down" and "Voodoo Lady" are played with great energy. During "Voodoo Lady" Dean Ween breaks into a blistering extended improvised guitar solo, moving his mouth as he projects distorted, psychedelic notes from his George Harrison Krishna paintjob guitar through the audience and into outerspace. And during "Roses are Free" Gene, in rare form on an electric guitar, and Dean enjoy dual guitar harmonies. Both of these moments are ideal for making use of the DVD player's rewind button.

Overall, the concert samples both the hard-rocking Ween tunes, such as "Doctor Rock," "You Fucked Up," and "I'll be Your Jonny on th' Spot," as well as more laid-back Ween songs such as "Mutilated Lips" and "Baby Bitch." Although a DVD could never capture the full experience of a Ween live show, such as on stage antics, chatter between songs, and the constant abuse of a smoke machine (although they do use it excessively during "Doctor Rock"), there are some advantages to the DVD: you can replay Dean Ween's mind-blowing guitar solos, and you can see every facial expression that Gene makes. Plus, you get a good look at the other band members that are usually restricted to being behind the drum set (or a rack of keyboards) all night. Ween - Live in ChicagoTwenty-six songs (make up the live video portion of the release, with twelve live songs from the DVD included on a bonus CD. The DVD features alternate cuts of three songs as well as a strange computer animation video for "Transdermal Celebration." While the "Ween/Live in Chicago" DVD may not be a substitute for the real live show, it is a solid addition to any Ween fan's collection.