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Live in New York City DVD

Review by Julie Knispel

Filmed at the Bowery Ballroom in New York on 16 March 2007, Live in New York City documents the second touring cycle for Blackfield, the collaborative project of Israeli musician Aviv Geffen and Porcupine Tree mastermind Steven Wilson.  Joined by Seffy Efrati (vocals, bass), Eran Mitelman (vocals, piano, keys) and Tomer Z (drums/percussion), the DVD showcases a full 18 song set from the alternative/art rock combo.

The video quality is excellent.  Considering that this was shot in a small club in NYC, the choices of angle and camera are impressive given the conditions.  One would perhaps forgive a dark picture here or there, but there’s nothing to criticize there either.  Unlike Porcupine Tree’s Arriving Somewhere DVD, this is presented as a straight forward performance video, with no overlays or video effects chosen for artistic purposes.  People looking to see how these songs are played, or more interested in seeing the musicians rather than an artistic statement, should be happy with these choices.

The audio is presented in stereo and DTS surround sound.  Recorded by Nir Z (Tomer’s brother, and the former drummer for Genesis in 1998) and mixed by Wilson, the audio is dynamic and pristine, suitable for the glistening art pop that typifies Blackfield’s output.  While this is a live recording, it doesn’t sound like a live record; the bass is punchy, the cymbals and acoustic guitars shine and sparkle.  The overall mix is rich and spacious, with each instrument getting its own room to breathe and exist.  These are hallmarks of Wilson’s mixing ethos, and it’s nice to hear a live album or video sounding as good as this does.  Highlights musically include both performances of “Once” (the band opened their encore with a second performance of this track), “Christenings” and “Thankyou,” but this should not detract from the other pieces covered on this performance.

Moving beyond the main performance, a selection of extras are included on the disc.  These include the promotional videos for “Hello,” “Pain” and “Blackfield,” directed by longtime Wilson artistic collaborator Lasse Hoile.  These are more artistic representations of the songs, not performance videos, and viewers familiar with the projections PT uses in concert should find these videos to feel familiar.  Photo galleries of shots behind the scenes and on stage complete these bonus features; it’s a fairly slim selection of extras, but extras should always be considered content above and beyond the main programme.

The DVD is packaged in a CD sized jewel case with a colour booklet showing some of the photos that seem duplicated in the DVD galleries.  There aren’t a lot of liner notes, but that the same time, they won’t distract or detract from the main content.

While fans await the promise of a third Blackfield album, this DVD will hopefully hold them over.  Live in New York City is a well presented document of a different side of Wilson’s output, working as an equal with another creator on a project that draws from the best of both musicians.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 6 at

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