This is the first full concert dvd from Primus, although there is a DVD included (a video collection, with a few live clips) with their recent effort, "Animals Should Not Try To Act Like People". This recent tour reunites the original lineup of the band - the concert was filmed at the last stop, Chicago's Aragon Ballroom. While not exactly prized for its accoustics (they're rather troublesome), the famed Aragon certainly has a long and interesting history. It was opened in 1926 and became one of the nation's most famous dance halls. The beautiful surroundings of the main floor (which one can see at times on the DVD, such as near the opening of "Too Many Puppies") were made to look like a Spanish courtyard. In the 50's, the dance hall crowd dwindled and the palace went through stages as a sports arena and an ice rink, before once again gearing up for concerts in the 70's, with the Doors, the Grateful Dead and many others having played there. The Aragon still continues to provide concerts (mainly rock) today.
One of the more out-there bands currently in business, Primus can only be described as the musical equivalent of a Hunter S. Thompson novel. Trippy, unique and loopy, the band is lead by bassist Les Claypool, largely considered one of the best bassists around, and - as the footage on the DVD shows - for very good reason. I've seen Primus in concert twice - one of the instances being one of my favorite concerts ever, where the band played through an enormous amount of their own songs, then started doing covers - and while this performance isn't my favorite (the ones I saw were more a mix from different albums), it's still a superb effort from one of my favorite bands.
Set 1: 1. Sgt. Baker 2. American Life 3. My Friend Fats 4. Jerry Was A Race Car Driver 5. The Last Superpower aka Rapscallion 6. My Name Is Mud
Set 2: ("Frizzle Fry" in its entirety) 1. To Defy The Laws Of Tradition 2. Groundhog's Day 3. Too Many Puppies 4. Mr. Knowitall 5. Frizzle Fry 6. John The Fisherman 7. You Can't Kill Michael Malloy 8. The Toys Go Winding Down 9. Pudding Time 10. Sathington Willoughby 11. Drum And Whamola Jam 12. Spegetti Western 13. Harold Of The Rocks 14. To Defy
Encore: The Pressman
VIDEO: The concert is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame. The picture quality really stands up pretty well, despite the changes in lighting and other issues. Sharpness and detail vary, but the picture remains pretty crisp and clear throughout, with no considerable moments of softness.
The picture did show some minor pixelation and slight grain, but these were really nothing too noticable and not of much concern. The picture remained free of edge enhancement and any wear to the source material. Colors - stage lighting, etc - remained bright and well-saturated, with no smearing.
SOUND: The concert is presented in both PCM 2.0 and Dolby Digital 5.1. The audio presentation is satisfactory, but presents some concerns. The audio seems to suffer from some of the accoustical problems of the venue; the overall sound seems a little muddled at times and Claypool's vocals sometimes sound a tiny bit drowned out. Otherwise, this is a fine presentation - instrumentals come through with pleasing clarity and usually sound full and dynamic. The mix isn't anything too elaborate - the music is spread out across the front speakers rather well and reinforced mildly by the rears. Aspects of the sound quality do dip at times, but mostly, this seemed like a fine recording.
EXTRAS: No supplements - a 155-minute concert is more than enough for me, though.
Final Thoughts: "Primus: Live 2004" offers a look at the original lineup of this outstanding band going through a few hits, as well as returning to their entire first album. Despite not being more of a mix of their albums, this is still a terrific, highly entertaining effort. The DVD offers good image quality and satisfying, if somewhat uneven at times, audio quality. There's no extras, but with a 155-minute show, I'm certainly satisfied with what the DVD offers. At $14.99 or less, this is a must for fans.