Ben Harper and Relentless7 – Live from the Montreal International Jazz Festival
Virgin Records (3/9/10)
This new CD/DVD package from Ben Harper and Relentless7, Live from the Montreal International Jazz Festival, packs quite a punch, as the group of blues-rock jamsters obviously give the crowd everything they have during a show recorded July 12, 2009. The companion DVD has the same show as the CD, but includes extra tracks “Skin Thin” and “Fly One Time”.
Starting the show off with grooving bass lines, sizzling guitar licks and bombastic drum fills, “Faster Slower Disappear Come Around” whips the crowd into a frenzy right from the get-go. And all Ben Harper fans will recognize the classic “Shimmer & Shine”, which leads into a wicked little number entitled “Lay There & Hate Me’.
The band also busts out a couple covers in “Red House” by Jimi Hendrix and the Queen and Bowie classic,”Under Pressure”. Both tracks do the originals justice, at the same time combining the flavor of the group into the song mixture. “Boots Like These”, “Up to You Now” and “Serve Your Soul” are memorable gems that definitely need a mention, providing a great example of energy throughout the fifteen tracks on this live set.
All bullshit aside, Live from the Montreal International Jazz Festival is definitely one of the best live recordings I have ever heard. Every tune is above average and most of them just plain rock. Ben Harper’s current band is way more impressive than his previous incarnation, The Innocent Criminals, and this CD/DVD package is the evidence. The drums and bass are locked in and exciting, while the dual guitars just tear it up. The sound quality of the recording can’t get any better and neither could this performance.