It's seldom that when a band says goodbye, it's handled as well as Audio Adrenaline's bow-out has been. With their final performance taking place in Hawaii this past April, it was made more difficult for their fans far and wide to gather with them one last time. Instead, only about 200 core fans were able to attend (JFH's diehards excluded), and thankfully for the rest of us, it was caught on video.
Live From Hawaii: The Farewell Concert brings the show to the fans in the form of a CD/DVD combo that offers much of the concert on the audio disc, and all of it on the DVD. While it's unclear why songs like "Leaving 99" and "DC-10" were omitted from the audio disc, the song selection is still a fine thirteen tracks that serve as a keepsake for only the most devoted fans. Due to lead vocalist Mark Stuart's vocal ailments, the quality of his vocals are noticeably poor, leaving room for criticism from anyone who isn't just happy to have this recording to keep. For fans of the band, Stuart's vocals are as important for AudioA as the songs themselves, regardless of the state his voice is in. But it's evident here as to why Stuart had to hang up the mic.
The audio portion plays out exactly like nearly any Audio Adrenaline show you may have seen since their 2005 record Until My Heart Caves In released. Some major differences, however, include a special vocal appearance by T-Bone during "We're A Band" (something he's done with them in the past, but not all too often), and an interrupted version of "Beautiful" where a fan proposed to his girlfriend right on stage, mid-song. And while that may be sweet, it seems a bit odd to pick the band's final show to borrow the spotlight for a marriage proposal. Also, having this captured on the audio disc is entirely unnecessary, as any fan wanting to replay the disc repeatedly to enjoy the live show sound will have to either skip over it or listen to it each time. And including it for the sake of having a complete experience of the finale show wouldn't be an excuse that holds up when even entire songs were cut (like "Leaving 99" and "DC-10," not to mention a meaningful message delivered from bassist Will McGinniss). And while the new version of "We're A Band" is one of the coolest the band has recorded in live form (including Live Bootleg and the Alive DVD), the quality of T-Bone's mic is fuzzy compared to the other vocals captured, not mixing too well overall, and when he inserts his classic crow squawkings, it just doesn't fit into the fan favorite.
The video of the concert improves upon the problems their 2004 DVD concert Alive possessed. Where Alive used over 20 different cameras and was spastically cut together, constantly changing angles, Live From Hawaii holds the camera longer on moments and it feels more like you're watching a live concert and not an attempt at an MTV music video. The bonus features are fun as well, including interviews with the band and their family and friends. It also shows the guys reminiscing about career highlights and just having some fun in Hawaii. It's enough to make any fan wish they could have been there too.
While some of the audio disc could use some trimming here and there for the sake of repeat listens, Live From Hawaii: The Farewell Concert remains a project that fans can embrace as the final 'hoorah' for one of Christian rock's finest. It's a collection best appreciated by the most passionate of AudioA fans.- Reviewed 8/26/07, PReviewed 8/9/07 by John DiBiase
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