Blu-ray Review: Graham Parker & The Rumour: This Is Live

Ever caught yourself watching a movie and hating it when the characters leave a cool event like a concert. Sure the plot point has been achieved, but you’re not ready to leave. You want to see the rest of the show within the show. Such is the case in Judd Apatow’s This Is 40. Paul Rudd’s plays a record executive bent on pushing a reunion of Graham Parker and the Rumour as his big dream project. During the film, Paul introduces the band at the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Even though the movie is over two hours long, Apatow cuts away from the concert action way too soon. This such a frustration for a music fan. Apatow’s fictional characters and their problems are meaningless when compared to a monumental music moment. Graham Parker and his old bandmates haven’t shared a stage in three decades. This isn’t Graham and a bunch of actors posing as his old band. This is a real reunion and tragically teased in the name of getting back to the forgettable story. Thankfully Apatow has remedied this editing error by giving us the nearly hour long reunion concert with just a little touch of Paul Rudd in This Is Live.

Who are Graham Parker and the Rumour, a youngster might ask? The band emerged from the London Pub Rock scene in 1975 and found themselves slotted into the New Wave movement that record companies coined to soften the public opinion of barbaric punk rock. Parker’s band had guitarist Brinsley Schwarz, keyboardist Bob Andrews, guitarist Martin Belmont, drummer Steve Goulding and bassist Andrew Bodnar. During their time, they found themselves compared to Elvis Costello and the Attractions in music mags. But Elvis and Graham were different in that Elvis wore those geek glasses while Graham sported sunglasses. Both were amazing songwriters with tight bands so there was no real reason to pick a side. Except the music writers enjoy creating pro wrestling rivalries. But there were no gang feuds between the singers since Nick Lowe worked with both. Over the years, Elvis ended up with the larger following while Graham never quite achieved mass popularity. His original record company couldn’t promote him right. “The best kept secret in the West” is what he said his label made him in the acidic “Mercury Poisoning.” He made at least one major fan in Judd Apatow (Knocked Up). The director wanted to people know what’s been hidden from them over the decades. The show mixes some of his classic songs from their first go around with several tracks from their reunion album Three Chords Good. This is not merely them dragging out the hits for another slog.

Apatow shoots the concert without too many artistic flourishes. The stage lights aren’t that dramatic. The camera angles are extremely unobtrusive. It’s almost like you’re watching a real low key show at the venue and not a performance staged for the cameras. Although you can easily tell it’s a fake concert because the people at the tables next to the stage aren’t constantly holding up their iPhones to post video of this historic event to their Facebook page. Not one drunk screams out “Freebird!” They are as well behaved as a room full of extras can perform. The band is also at their nicest. They’re no longer a pack of angry young men with scowls. Most of them are at retiree age and they don’t mind looking it. They keep swapping smiles as if they can’t believe that they’re back on stage with Graham after all this time. Graham is able to deliver his songs with a mature experienced voice. He’s no longer an angry young man, but a guy who knows what he’s talking about. He strikes a fitting pose in his suit and tie. He even looks good when playing the kazoo on “She Rocks Me.” It’s hard to believe these guys had been apart for so long. This Is Live is a worthwhile reunion that reminds us why a reunited Graham Parker and the Rumour are not a nostalgia act.

Track Listing
1. “Fool’s Gold”
2. “Nobody Hurts You”
3. “Protection”
4. “Local Girls”
5. “Long Emotional Ride”
6. “She Rocks Me”
7. “Passion Is No Ordinary Word”
8. “Discovering Japan”
9. “Stop Cryin’ About The Rain”
10. “Three Chords Good”
11. “Stupefaction”
12. “Soul Shoes”
13. “Sirens of the Night” plays over the end credits

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The 1080p image looks great since Apatow didn’t do anything too flashy. It’s a leisurely edited concert. The audio is given 5.1 DTS MA that brings out the instruments in the various speakers. The crowd noise is kept to a minimum.

DVD contains all the stuff on the Blu-ray. The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital. You can share it with friends who think Elvis Costello had no peers.

Graham Parker and the Rumour: This Is Live is the only reason why This Is 40 needed to be made. If only one person watching that film hunted down a Graham Parker and the Rumour collection, than Judd Apatow has accomplished something in his life.

Shout! Factory presents Graham Parker and the Rumour: This Is Live. Directed by Judd Apatow. Starring: Graham Parker, Brinsley Schwarz, Bob Andrews, Martin Belmont, Steve Goulding and Andrew Bodnar. Running Time: 55 minutes. Rated: Unrated. Released: August 27, 2013.

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