Ned's Atomic Dustbin

Shoot the Ned's in Concert [DVD]

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The grebos are back with a vengeance. Following in the footsteps of their punk progenitors and their new wave precursors, now the longhaired party people have returned to get the joint jumping once again. None have been gone long: Ned's Atomic Dustbin, like most of their mates, broke up in the mid-'90s (1995 to be precise) and the new millennium was just taking hold when they re-formed. Shoot the Neds finds the band back in its old stomping grounds, playing in June 2002 to a packed-to-the-rafters JB's club in the northern English town of Dudley. The crowd is ecstatic and the band exuberant, so why does the DVD fall a wee bit flat? Well, if you own a $5,000 entertainment center, it probably won't, for the show was shot for widescreen; on a smaller TV, though, the footage becomes elongated, making the Neds look like escapees from a Lowry painting. And what's up with the sound? There are hundreds of shouting, screaming fans present, and so a roar should be going up at the opening bar of every other number of this hit-strewn set -- but only a few shouts can be heard. The sound, crisp as it is, somehow manages to lose nine-tenths of the audience. The mix is equally peculiar, for one shouldn't have to twiddle with knobs or dials to hear the bottom end of a band with two bassists. Eventually one becomes accustomed to the long faces and slightly weedy sound, so by the time the band kicks up another notch halfway through the set, one is transported back in time to those heady days of not so long ago. Attacking their old numbers with the ferocity of punks and the rhythms so driving as to be almost pulverizing, buzz-sawing out guitar drones worthy of the Velvet Underground, and tossing in a bit of swirl too keep the audience hopping, the Neds not only relive their glory days, but for 65 minutes bring those heady days back to life. It was obviously a superb show, and fans' own excitement will supply what's lacking here. Plus, there are backstage thrills, a bio, and -- more importantly -- a fascinating extended interview with the bandmembers themselves.