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progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

dvd & video review

Niacin - Blood, Swaet & Beers - 2003


1.- No Man's Land, 2.- Do a Little Dirty Work, 3.- I Miss You (Like I Miss the Sun), 4.- One Less Worry, 5.- Pay Dirt, Klaghorn, 6.- Birdland, 7.- Niacin, 8.- You Keep Me Hanging On, 9.- Three Feet Back

Prog fans have a lot of choices in today’s music. Lately, the last big thing is the term of “supergroup”. A “supergroup” is a band formed by different musicians from different bands, and most of the times they come from different styles. They get together to create an album with everyone’s best, trying to make history. A few examples are Transatlantic, Liquid Tension Experiment or OSI to name some.

One of these bands is Niacin, started back in 1996 by famous jazz drummer Dennis Chambers, the incredible keyboardist John Novello and the very well known bassist Billy Sheehan. Three big names of the music scene, with a long career behind their back. Niacin was meant to be a “hammond” led band. John Novello is a master of this instrument and he makes great things with it. It’s hard to hear a REAL hammond in today’s prog scene because most of the keyboardists use just “hammond samples”. Ryo Okumoto from Spock’s Beard is the only one I can come with right now.

Back to the DVD, the concert consists in a little reunion in a Japanese jazz club. Small venue, small crowd, people sit down and having some drinks and Billy, John and Dennis giving the best out of them. The band sounds perfect, Dennis Chambers’s drum sound is amazing, I think I’ve never heard such an awesome drum sound. Billy’s bass sounds like…well , if you know Billy you know how it sounds: everything but a bass at all. The way he tunes his Talas bass (tuned as a guitar) makes him to have a really personal tone, beyond compare. His playing is mind-blowing and I was really shocked when I heard Niacin’s first album due to his “metal” past with Mr Big, David Lee Roth and a big etc. It’s clear that his versatility is beyond godlikeness. In my opinion, with all the keyboard leads, you gotta hear Niacin in little doses. For us, people who are not into jazz that much, listening to Niacin for 1 hour and a half can bore us.Of course, seeing the DVD is really different. You listen to it in a row because when it starts you got so shocked that you don’t even care for the length. There are some Billy, Dennis and John’s solos that made my jaw drop. The setlist is really good. Tunes like “No Man's Land”, “Do a Little Dirty Work”, “Birland” or “Niacin” make this DVD a very “must have” element in your discography. You could say that this DVD is like a big Jam where the personal talent joins the sake of entertainment to make a memorable concert.

When it comes to technical features of the DVD: it’s really good but it could be much better. The image quality is brilliant and the sound is killer. The problem is that it is just the concert, nothing more. There should be some backstage stuff, bios, rehearsals and special features. Well, not always we can get everything we want.

I’m finishing this review adding that this is by far the best element in Niacin’s discography to get into them. There are some bands that are more enjoyable live than in studio. Niacin is one of them. Get this DVD, you won’t regret it.

Luis Vélez - October 2003
rating - Image Entertainment


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