If there’s one thing to be sure of when it comes to Jesus Jones’ Live at the Marquee DVD, it’s the intended audience. This is one for the diehards, folks.
Originally released in the UK quite some time ago, Live at the Marquee is a start-to-finish concert recording of a one-off show that Jesus Jones played in London at the tail end of 2002 for the express purpose of filming a live DVD. Given the show’s nature, the band opened up the assembly of the setlist to their relatively considerable and devoted fanbase, who voted on the songs to be played via web sites, message boards, and whatnot. The result: A 25-song set that lasts for over an hour and a half, easily the longest show that Jesus Jones has ever played.
The best news of all of this is that the members of Jesus Jones get to play a pile of songs that they rarely get to play amongst all of the big hits, without leaving out the requisite selections from the (then) new album, London. A couple of B-sides make the setlist, including the live favorite “Caricature”, an obscure little tune that has grown into a live favorite over the years. The inclusion of “Are You Satisfied?” was likely a treat for London as well, as in the UK, the song was simply a B-side to “Right Here Right Now”, not played in over a decade. For the U.S. audience, however, the song is bound to come off as simply another song from Doubt, Jesus Jones’s one hit album in the States, on which it appeared as a bonus track. Given that there are six other songs from Doubt in the setlist, the special nature of a performance of “Are You Satisfied?” will likely be lost on all but the most devoted of Jesus Jones’s United States fans.
Still, it’s obvious for the duration that it is to those very fans that Live at the Marquee is dedicated, despite the presence of hits like “Right Here Right Now”, “International Bright Young Thing” and “Real Real Real” (all from Doubt). The most obvious indicator of the play to this target audience? There’s a decided lack of much of anything at all to attract anyone who hasn’t already fallen under the Jesus Jones spell.
Indeed, the Jesus Jones live spectacle is by all measures a fairly barebones affair, featuring the five members of the band onstage at all times, playing their songs the only way they know how. Nearly everything is loud and fast, though to varying degrees, and there’s a crowd present who seems predictably entranced by everything the band dishes out. There are no guest stars, no flashy stage shows, nothing at all other than a spiffy set and a couple of offhanded comments by vocalist and guitarist Mike Edwards about the cameras and the fact that the show is being filmed for a DVD. On most DVDs for live albums, such comments end up on the cutting room floor when the show is being edited for mass consumption—the presence of references to the DVD being made allows a sense of realism to the live experience, but is ultimately pointless banter that could have been streamlined out of the final product.
This lack of editing comes to haunt the bonus material as well. There is nearly an hour of interview material, most of which features the group explaining bits and pieces of trivia about every single one of the tracks that gets played, in order. So we hear about lyric-writing on a plane over Siberia, we hear about making a Chris Cunningham video while torturously hanging upside down, we hear about the band’s near-photographic recollection of the chart performance of almost every one of their singles. The band itself is charming and down-to-earth in all the right ways, the type of band you’d take home to mum, but by the time Edwards and keyboardist Iain Baker are explaining to the camera how awful the bass drum sounds on the album version of main set closer “Who Where Why”, anyone would be doing well to still be awake. Of course, after that, there’s still interview material with Edwards himself on the origins and history of the band to slog through, which is certainly interesting enough, but just too much combined with the song synopses to take in over the course of a single sitting.
So yes, I know it’s a DVD, and the makers of the DVD want to shove as many goodies as they possibly can into it, but the whole thing just feels long. One person can only listen to Edwards try and fail to hit high notes for so long. One person can only listen to dance-rock beats with straightforward guitars lacking proper pop hooks for so long. One person can only listen to a band talk about itself for so long. In nearly every way, Live at the Marquee simply does not deliver enough quality for the quantity of material present.
Of course, the überfans who can finally play it in their American DVD players will love it.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times. Thanks everyone.
// Short Ends and Leader
"Alex Garland’s Ex Machina is a darkly funny and philosophical cyberpunk locked-room thriller that tangles with the greatest sci-fi puzzle: What does it mean to be human?READ the article