Robben Ford

In Concert: Obhe Filter Revisited [Video]

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The "revisited" in the DVD's title refers to this September 18, 1997 show being Robben Ford's second appearance on the German TV program, released on DVD over a decade later. It finds the guitarist fronting a terrific trio of bass, drums, and keyboards on a somewhat short 52-minute performance that frustratingly fades out during the final song. Too bad the label couldn't have rescued extra footage from the session to extend the playing time, but what is here is extraordinary. Ford is in top form on this predominantly instrumental set recorded on his Tiger Walk tour featuring five of that album's nine tracks, with a few more ultimately appearing on 1998's Authorized Bootleg. The approach falls between jazz fusion, soul, rock, and blues, a unique combination of Ford's influences that he and his band navigate with deft precision. He cuts an imposing image with his cream colored Telecaster offset against his black outfit and truly seems to be enjoying himself on a selection of music that allows him to sing on a few songs and also share the spotlight with the other musicians. The old classic "Chevrolet" is given a jaunty spin with an arrangement Ford likely picked up from Taj Mahal, but it's on the nearly nine-minute version of "Freedom" that Ford shifts into overdrive. He moves from fusion to hard rock with ease, laying back before charging ahead as the band urges him on. Although he can shred if needed, Ford is more concerned with dynamics and constructing sophisticated solos terse with musical drama. He picks up a Strat for "Tiger Walk," growling and prowling around the melody with a trebly tone that morphs between genres with Steely Dan styled effortlessness. The audio and video are both superb with the surround sound mix wide open and each instrument clearly defined. The camera work is as classy as the music featuring enough close-ups on Ford's frets to soothe any budding guitarist, but with plenty of smooth transition shots of the band. This is an essential item for fans of the six-string expert and a great introduction for those new to Robben Ford's astonishing talents. The only drawback is the DVD's rather abbreviated length, but the performance is so flawless and perfectly executed that only curmudgeons will grouse. Oddly, the cover shot is not from this set but from his first appearance on the show, a minor yet sloppy mistake that should not have eluded the disc's manufacturer.

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