DVD review: Blue Man Group, The Complex Rock Tour Live

After seeing an amazing Blue Man Group show last month, I asked for and received a Blue Man DVD for my birthday. My family rocks.

It only takes a few minutes to realize that no DVD can possibly do the live show justice. The show is an overwhelming assault on your eyes and ears. It’s not quite the same watching on a computer screen, particularly on the titletrack The Complex, which loses a bit of power when you’re not immersed in it, feeling the office drone’s despair as he tries to escape.

And the DVD seems designed not to give everything away. It’s basically the music and only the music, not all the sketches in between. That’s a little disappointing in the sense that I would’ve liked to see how the 2003 show documented here differs from the “Megastar” show I saw.

So given all that, you have to judge it for what is is — an introduction to Blue Man Group shows rather than a complete replication of the experience.

Judged on that standard, it’s quite good. With the Blue Men and full band — guitarists, vocalists, drummer and THREE percussionists (I only saw two) — there’s no shortage of interesting visuals, and the music is a good mix of professional polish and raw live energy.

The DVD also features the singer I didn’t get to see — Tracy Bonham. And she’s just wonderful, particularly on Baba O’Reilly. It helps that she can pick up a violin and play the last bit.

Bonham isn’t the only vocalist to record on the Complex album who is featured here. Peter Moore, who was also in the live show I saw, replicates his songs as well as those they recorded with Dave Matthews and Gavin Rossdale. He easily bounces between personas, and his Jon Peter Lewis hair gives him an extra layer of innocence that works for the show.

And Venus Hum, the band that helped the Blue Men redo the disco classic I Feel Love, appears in full force. Lead singer Annette Strean has a big powerful voice that belies her appearance. Think Lisa Loeb’s perky, playful twin sister, and you get the idea.

Given a choice between buying the DVD and seeing the show, see the show. If you can’t see the show, enjoy the DVD.

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