Live in MichiganFor a band so well-known for their hilarious antics and incredibly energetic live performances, it’s surprising to learn that Barenaked Ladies have never released a live performance DVD… until now that is. With the release of Talk to the Hand: Live in Michigan, Barenaked Ladies are bringing their distinctively clever pop sensibilities to their legions of eager fans. The best part about the release, aside from the environmentally friendly packaging, is that it also includes a live cd recording of the concert, marking their third live album after Rock Spectacle and Au Naturale.

Talk to the Hand presents a total of 15 songs, with almost half being pulled from their latest releases: sister albums Barenaked Ladies Are Me and Barenaked Ladies Are Men. The mixture of old and new, classic and untried, works out surprisingly well, as classics like “The Old Aparrment” are immediately followed by new material like “Sound of Your Voice”, and each is presented with admirable dedication.

As they are known to do, the band doesn’t just give the audience a rote performance of these well-known songs. Each song, especially high-energy hits like “Too Little Too Late”, where Stephen Page begins dancing, jumping and kicking all over the stage, gives the audience a strong dose of these five men and their relationship to their music. The switchoff between lead singers, clearly evident on any of the band’s albums, also plays out nicely in the set list.  Bookended by famous duets “One Week” and “If I Had $1000000”, Stephen Page and Ed Robertson switch off lead vocals every few songs for the course of the performance.

The two acoustic performances (“For You” and “Be My Yoko Ono”) are perhaps the most enjoyable performances of the concert. Watching the quintet gather around one microphone and harmonize with each other, coupled with Ed strumming a banjo, Jim a bass and Kevin working an accordian sets these two acoustic pieces apart from the big sound of the rest of the concert. The typical audience banter heard at any Barenaked Ladies concert (and found at the end of Rock Spectacle and Au Naturale) is also strongly featured, as Talk to the Hand presents the concert in its entirety from beginning to end.

The DVD also features a brief “Backstage With The Ladies” section in which Stephen and Ed talk about their first gig together as Barenaked Ladies and the entire band discusses memorable live show experiences. There’s also a sound check of “Angry People” and a concert photo montage, but these last two features are skippable. Overall, Talk to the Hand is the kind of live concert DVD that’s worth the decade and a half wait.

Zach’s Rating: A
Perfect For: An evening of comedy/music
Stay Away if: Cleverly punny pop music doesn’t do it for you

To purchase Talk to the Hand: Live in Michigan, visit Amazon
For more information on Barenaked Ladies, visit their homepage

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