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Weather Report - Live In Offenbach 1978 CD (album) cover


Weather Report


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.16 | 13 ratings

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4 stars Ooh, this might just be the best Weather Report DVD out there. Newly restored, containing a two hours plus show of a band at their peak (commercially, anyway), this package of a lively night in Offenbach has a lot to make it worth purchasing. The set list is good, though it is likely that even if you consider yourself quite a knowledgeable fan, you won't recognise every song that the band plays. I think this adds to the value of it, along with hearing classics like 'Birdland' and 'Black Market' performed with more inter-relational chemistry than a large pharmacy. The weaker tracks in the show (there is the odd one) are only bad because they are bad compositions. I wouldn't say there were any flaws whatsoever with the way these four guys execute their magical, exciting music.

Zawinul's pieces are the focus, as you'd expect. 'Black Market' opens the proceedings with a lot more fire than the original, although I always thought it should be a calm piece. The sax and drums break in the middle is one of the best moments of the night, simultaneously highlighting Peter Erskine's best asset, groove, and Wayne Shorter's best asset, melody. Well, we know Shorter was a jazz God anyway; this performance just proves he hadn't lost it in 1978. 'Scarlet Woman' is more moody, while 'Young and Fine' sets the tone for the majority of the show; the band sets into a groove with various riffs and bass lines hammering over a beat, while Shorter and Zawinul proceed to splash their brilliant melodies, solos and chordal flurries all over the shop. The perpetually flanged electric piano is a constant source of pleasure behind the rumblings of tenor and soprano saxes. Jaco Pastorius' bass, while well-played of course, lacks an interesting or powerful timbre like the rest of the band, so it is a shame for such a virtuoso to, at times, sound like another artificial keyboard.

'A Remark You Made' is performed with some extra sections, all of them as beautiful as the well-known 'verses'. 'River People', a song that was new to me, was a bit of a wow moment. It turns into what is probably the funkiest, most upbeat jam of the evening. Very, very good stuff. Then, rightfully, the intensity eases off while we hear solo spots from Shorter and then Pastorius. Both of them display the virtuosity of the players, which we are already aware of, and not a lot else. I'm not someone who buys into the whole 'pretentious' thing that gets thrown around a lot of discussions about jazz and progressive rock, but Jaco's moment here is one piece of music I can definitely say is indulgent.

'Mr Gone' might be as controversial as the similarly titled album. This must have been one of the song's last performances, but I quite like the piece. 'In A Silent Way' and 'Waterfall' are more subtle, and are good examples of how well this quartet works as a single unit, rather than anyone taking the lead all the time. But just as things begin to grow tiring, 'Teen Town' kicks in with a bang, played with excitement and fire. The medley afterwards continues the fun, while less impactive, but 'Birdland' is, as it always was, a jaw-dropping finale. The excellent composition is daringly sped up, and morphs into a swinging shuffle pretty soon. The climax of this show is 'Birdland's fantastically catchy outro, before the band members take some bows and prepare their encore.

'Fred and Jack' serves as a vehicle for Erskine's mesmerising drum solo, though nothing we haven't seen before. 'Elegant People' is just great, and the closing 'Badia' leaves a cool, eastern flavour in one's mouth once the show is over.

I think, of those available, this is the one Weather Report show that begs to be seen, not just heard. The chemistry is there, still, and these guys make their silences count as much as their melodies. The quality only dips on a couple of occasions, and there is so much good material here that you will be in fusion heaven from the word go.

thehallway | 4/5 |


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