Pam Tillis

Live at the Renaissance Center

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There's an entire series of DVDs titled Live at the Renaissance Center, one with Ray Price actually taped at Doc Severinsen's music showplace venue and not the place slapped on the packaging, making suspect any project in the catalog. Have no fear, however, as this Pam Tillis DVD is the real deal and has so much to offer that it is totally worth the price of admission. Unlike her dad's Mel Tillis Live disc, which is simply The Nashville Network's Church Street Station program issued with little information, this project was conceived by Tillis and her associates and is a fan's dream come true. In the 15-and-a-half-minute interview she explains this is a "greatest-hits career retrospective live." Tillis notes that they don't record the shows on her 130 dates per year, so this is something they made for the fan base. There's a four-and-a-half-minute "backstage pass" where the tech guys talk and Pam gives a tour of the bus, 20 pages of chronological "career highlights" starting with 1991, a delightful three-minute "slide show," a seven-page biography, "home movies" that run like a video to a mix of "Demolition Angel," and this is all luscious stuff before you even get to the terrific concert. Like Leo Kottke and Tim Buckley DVDs, the "more than merrier" attitude at play here is most welcome and something other artists need to study to give the audience more bang for the buck. There's plenty on this DVD and an endearing quality from Tillis casual listeners might not get from the radio. The concert contains almost two dozen titles by the country-singer-who-leans-toward-rock before the show concludes with a Fleetwood Mac song. On that final track, her credible cover of "Go Your Own Way," she says, "I grew up on country music but I grew up on a little bit of rock & roll too." Well, the version is decidedly country, something Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers could appreciate. Her rendition of "Last Train to Clarksville," on the other hand, is more funk than "Go Your Own Way" is rock. On the fiddle-flavored, uptempo "I Said a Prayer," her 15th Top Ten record, she indulges in "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," J. Geils Band's "Centerfold," a collection of famous "na na na" songs. The filming of this excellent concert is top notch with lots of pans, audience shots, close-ups on the musicians, and a bright venue making for easy viewing. Tillis' vast audience will find much satisfaction in this thorough and commendable package.