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Shout Factory presents
X: Live in Los Angeles (2004)

"I'm glad we're still alive 25 years later, because I never expected to be, to be perfectly honest."
- John Doe

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: May 11, 2005

Stars: Exene Cervenka, John Doe, Billy Zoom, D.J. Bonebrake
Director: Amber Cordero

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild language)
Run Time: 01h:07m:02s
Release Date: May 10, 2005
UPC: 826663016291
Genre: music


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ A-BB B

DVD Review

In this reunion concert—recorded at the Los Angeles House of Blues in November 2004—the seminal west coast punk band X finds themselves 25 years older, but still able to burn through a set of some of their best works with the kind of raw, surging energy generally reserved for bands half their age. With the original lineup of Exene Cervenka (vocals), John Doe (vocals, bass), Billy Zoom (guitar) and D.J. Bonebrake (drums) on stage, X shows in just over an hour that their unique brand of explosively personal music (built largely around the give-and-take vocals between Cervenka and Doe) is still as viable today as it ever was.

Musically, the band seems to have crawled out of an early 1980s time capsule sounding perfectly preserved, with the stationary Zoom and his familiar wide-legged stance and everpresent smirk churning out the riffs as Doe and Cervenka trade wonderfully angry and mournful vocal duties against Bonebrake's powerful drumming. Cervenka's vocals show a little wear in spots (as on I'm Coming Over), which her distinctive wail hides it well, but it is really Doe who controls the band's presence on stage. His voice has remained seemingly unchanged over time, an instrument of great range and emotion that for this set spends most the time at full throttle, almost coming unglued during the set closing The World's a Mess, It's in My Kiss; as a counterbalance, one of the extras on this disc does feature the other side of Doe doing a beautiful, stripped down acoustic version of See How We Are.

This is a set of high-adrenaline X music, as if they were out to prove that they hadn't lost a step, with the closest thing to a slower number being the moderate tempo of Blue Spark. The questionable absence of their version of Dave Alvin's 4th of July is a minor downer, though it would have been a tough one to wedge into this loud, fast set. What's here is solid: We're Desperate, Los Angeles, Because I Do, The World's a Mess, It's in My Kiss, and the obligatory encore cover of The Doors' Soul Kitchen, a nod to former producer Ray Manzarek.

Like many bands, X went through a disintegration of sorts over time, and it is a proper epilogue that this House of Blues set captures them not simply as a novelty reunion act, but as a strong musical force. Couple this with the recent release of the X documentary The Unheard Music about their formative years, and it is a mighty good set of bookends.

Set List:
Your Phone's Off the Hook, But You're Not
In This House That I Call Home
We're Desperate
Beyond & Back
White Girl
The Unheard Music
Los Angeles
True Love
I'm Coming Over
Blue Spark
The New World
Nausea
Johnny Hit and Run Paulene
Motel Room in My Bed
It's Who You Know
Because I Do
Devil Doll
The Hungry Wolf
Year 1
The World's a Mess, It's in My Kiss
Soul Kitchen


Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: X: Live In Los Angeles comes from Shout Factory in an impressive and stark 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Stage lighting is minimal, almost industrial, with much of the set featuring band members moving in and out of shadows, and the image quality here still manages to be particularly detailed. Fleshtones on John Doe's face (he seems to get the most direct coverage) are lifelike and clear, as are all the drops of sweat and fingerprints on his bass. This isn't the brightest concert disc I've ever seen, but that was the band's choice for stage lighting, and the transfer does a fine job reproducing that look.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The primary audio option here is 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track that relegates crowd sounds to the rear channel, while the music gets spread across the front three channels, supported by a deep .LFE channel. Vocals are clear, but some of the songs seem to lack any distinctive separation, turning the resulting energy into one unified wall of sound.

A 2.0 stereo track is also included, as an alternative for those without a 5.1-capable system.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 21 cues and remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Fearless Freaks, The Blasters: Going Home Live
3 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Extras consist of a pair of acoustic numbers, recorded on a comfy couch somewhere, from Exene Cervenka and John Doe. They perform See How We Are (05m:10s) and True Love (01m:56s), both of which run counter to the crazed energy of the main live set. This would have been a perfect spot for 4th of July, but even with that oversight, Doe's vocal work on See How We Are is achingly beautiful, and the song's message echoes with an intensity that is far more pronounced than the studio version. Photos From Billy Zoom (02m:19s) is an automated set of photos taken from the stage by the guitarist, after a brief intro explaining the concept.

The disc is cut into 21 chapters, one per song.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

They might be 25 years older, but they still kick some major league ass. The set is depressingly short, running just over an hour, but it is so relentlessly fast-paced that anything longer might just have been lethal.

Recommended.

 


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