Say what you will of their flat-ironed haircuts, wordy song titles, and relationships with exasperating Hollywood starlets, but the boys in Fall Out Boy put on a fairly tight show. Still, is that enough to save Live in Phoenix from being dragged underwater by its own weight? Recorded during the Infinity on High tour, this CD/DVD package features both sides of the band: the talented emo-rock outfit headed by vocalist Patrick Stump (displayed on the audio disc), and the flashy, image-conscious group with Pete Wentz at the center (as evidenced by the DVD). The video portion is enjoyable enough, particularly if you're a dedicated fan, as the pyrotechnics and confetti cannons add a bit of spectacle to the band's performance. At the same time, it's all too easy to overlook Patrick Stump's presence when you're given those visuals, and his contributions are the real meat of Fall Out Boy's sound. Wentz may be the most famous bandmember (even if his agenda seems to center on three things here: screaming into the microphone, introducing songs with unintentionally hilarious speeches, and wearing a fashionable hoodie during the height of summer in an Arizona nightclub), but Stump proves his worth as one of the most competent emo vocalists around, nailing the high notes in "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" and plowing his way through series after series of tongue-twisting melodies. He deserves more recognition, and the fact that Pete Wentz so easily hijacks the spotlight shows why many critics dismiss this band. Then again, perhaps the CD's messy cover of "Beat It" is to blame. John Mayer makes a brief appearance on the song's guitar solo, but his presence only heightens the realization that we're listening to Fall Out Boy and John Mayer, not the celebrated partnership of Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen. When the bandmates stick to their talents, Live in Phoenix shows them to be competent musicians who've been irrationally slandered by those outside the emo circle. But when Fall Out Boy overstep their boundaries, this album threatens to capsize, regardless of the strength of the performances.
AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey
Track Listing - Disc 1
feat: John Mayer
Track Listing - Disc 2