Strawbs - "Live in Tokyo '75/Grave New World - The Movie" (Witchwood Media 80 min.)

As the title reveals, this DVD has two main features. The first one is a 45-minute concert from Tokyo in 1975 on the tour for "Ghosts". The setlist is naturally based around many songs from that album, but we're of course also getting such obligatory Strawbs classics as "New World" and "Hero and Heroine". The audio is a bit thin and without much depth, but sounds at least clean and clear. The stage-set looks very kitschy and 70's, and the lightning and dry ice smoke make a magic finale to "Down by the Sea" (too bad Lambert's crappy vocal performance weakens it a bit). Other highlights include an atmospheric "Remember (When We Were Young)" and "The Life Auction". If you, like me, thought the latter one sounds a bit like Genesis on the studio version, then the performance here will strengthen that impression. Especially the intro is like watching/hearing something that Peter Gabriel could have done in Genesis. But to include a drum solo here was not a very good idea, especially when you consider the modest length of the concert. Apart from that, this is a nice chance to see Strawbs live from the 70's. The "Grave New World Movie" is basically a collection of videos from 1972 for each song from the album of the same name (with the exception of "Queen of Dreams"). Even a 70's fanatic like myself will freely admit that most of these videos unfortunately looks unbearably primitive and dated. The simple and more modest of them looks decent, such as the ones for "Is It Today, Lord?" and "Tomorrow". But it goes terribly wrong when the "special effects" is let loose. The worst example is undoubtedly "The Flower and the Young Man" where the band is supposed to be standing in the clouds. Honestly, I won't watch "The Grave New World Movie" again, as I prefer to listen to the album without having to associate it with these truly cheesy images. Among the bonuses at the end of the DVD is a TV clip from 1970 that shows the band with a very young Rick Wakeman, and believe me, this was really before they became a noteworthy band. There is also an interesting interview with Dave Cousins from 1974 where he tells about the background for the song "Grace Darling", and we follow the band as they sails out to the lighthouse where the story of that song actually happened. The DVD is worth having for the concert from 1975, and the rest of it is surely interesting from a historic point of view, although not very pretty to watch today.

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