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Cover Art

Ween ( )

Live In Chicago
EMI ( http://www.emimusic.ca/ )
It’s been said for years by those in the know that Ween is one of the best, most versatile groups around but it’s never been known except by those that have gone to their shows if the band’s wildly divergent material could stand up in a live setting. Perhaps to put those questions to rest, Ween taped a three-night stand in Chicago’s Vic Theatre in late 2003 – culling the best songs from their 13-year career and assembling a sort of ‘greatest hits live’ package. At least, in a just world they would have been hits. What most people would look for in a greatest hits package from Ween is simple: nearly all of 1994’s epic Chocolate and Cheese and a smattering of the best tracks from the rest of their albums omitting 1991’s awful The Pod and the generally poor 12 Golden Country Hits. Ween is totally aware of this and deliver exactly that in short order on Live In Chicago. The DVD disk in the set features 9 extra tracks and the original setlist order and catches Dean and Gene at the top of their game and performing what even passive listeners will agree is a diverse and fantastic romp through Ween’s catalogue from The Oneness to Quebec. Gene’s voice has been unaffected by the passage of time and his vocal acrobatics that have often been guessed to be studio trickery translate well to the stage and are in some cases even improved by the absence of studio doubling, echoes and reverbs. The real gem on Live In Chicago is the instrumentation though. Dean Ween takes on guitar god status when the band begins to jam on the likes of “Voodoo Lady�, “Roses Are Free� and “Booze Me Up And Get Me High� – stirring up all sorts of psychedelic oddness in his path. With little effort, the band switches gears on a dime and nails every track during the performance from the utterly laughable “HIV Song� to the faux-country of “I’ll Be Your Jonny On Th’ Spot�. In stark contrast to All Request Live (where diehard fans were allowed to pick the setlist) for Live In Chicago Ween wisely attempt to draw new fans by giving them the best parts of their recorded output in a live setting. There are no weak points during the set and the performance and production sparkle. Live In Chicago will make a believer out of anyone whether they’re new listeners who are just getting into Ween or older fans that haven’t had the benefit of seeing the group live.

By Bill Adams
Sep 29, 2004

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