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It Bites Live In Tokyo DVD

It Bites Live In Tokyo DVDI have a confession to make; I have never attended an It Bites concert.  It was not due to deliberate avoidance on my part, far from it.  I was a fan from the first album and bought the other two studio works on their release.  Alas, fate was against me.  Whenever the band were touring I was either on holiday or the other end of the country.  No matter, I thought.  There’s always next time.

It Bites were an instant success from the release of their first album in 1986, The Big Lad in the Windmill, appealing to prog, pop and rock fans alike with their immensely catchy and bouncy tunes incorporating clever lyrics and seemingly complex instrumentals brilliantly arranged.  Sometimes loud, sometimes quiet and sometimes aggressive but always full of energy, the band’s style was generally upbeat regardless of the subject matter of the songs.  Did they ever call their music prog rock?  Probably not and that is possibly why they had such a large (as in ‘many’) female following.

Who would have thought that the band would call it a day after just three or four years in the limelight and three studio albums under their belt?  Not I, obviously, or I would have got my proverbial finger out long before and made more of an effort to see them in concert, something I have regretted ever since.  (I should point out that Francis Dunnery (guitar, vocals), John Beck (keys), Dick Nolan (bass) and Bob Dalton (drums) had been gigging for a number of years prior to their first album release, so It Bites as an entity had actually existed for far longer than four years.)

14 years down the road, Bob Dalton discovered the existence of a filmed recording of a live performance of the band in Tokyo (and a quality sound recording of a concert in Montreux), contacted the rest of the band and gained their approval to convert the tape to DVD.

The 82-minute DVD is of the band in concert at their peak in front of a 3,000 Tokyo crowd of adoring fans performing songs from all three of their studio albums.  And what a performance!  If you have never heard any It Bites (and I don’t believe it for one minute), they were unique so comparisons with other bands of the same and previous eras is impossible.  The anoraks amongst you may spot some rare Yes (fast vocal section in Yellow Christian) and Genesis (instrumental phrasing in the closure of some tunes) similarities but they only amount to less than one per cent of It Bites music.  A better comparison would be with a post-It Bites Jadis.  Since 1992, the Jadis style clearly follows in the footsteps of It Bites, especially the guitar intros.

If like me, you didn’t get to go to any It Bites concerts, or even if you did, this DVD captures the energy and enthusiasm and is to be relished.  As is always the case where good music is concerned, all of the songs are as fresh now as they were then and the quality of the musicianship is A1.  Watch this and you’ll realise how much you miss It Bites.

Technical Aspects

Picture and sound quality is very good.  No details are given as to who was involved in filming the gig but they clearly knew the music.  There are plenty of close ups of Frank’s nifty finger work on the fret board. 

There are a couple of very minor glitches in concentration at the start (camera and live edit) but the chances are you won’t notice them.  The clarity of the base camera (the camera set up for the long shots near the back of the auditorium) shots is poor, but the director obviously realised this early on and used it sparingly.  The nightmares of filming a live concert come flooding back to me! 

Package features

The DVD has a very basic menu – you can choose to play the whole concert or select a particular track.

The DVD sleeve provides full listings and an insert providing a brief account of the story behind the DVD.

Though no mention is made on the DVD or the sleeve, the DVD is multi-region NTSC format, stereo sound and 4:3 standard screen ratio. (Note: most, if not all DVD players can handle this providing an NTSC output but not all PAL televisions will accept an NTSC signal especially portable TVs or those older than five years, so check your equipment literature to be certain.  If the TV is not NTSC compatible you’ll end up with a monochrome picture.  However, the DVD should work on all PC’s equipped with a DVD drive.)

Summary

This is a no-frills DVD and to be honest, there is no need for them: the thrills of the performance more than make up for the lack of extras.  Huge thanks must go to Bob Dalton for ‘keeping the faith’ and for all his efforts in producing this DVD.  It Bites can be assured of a warm welcome if, by any chance, the band ever decide to reform.  Guys, you are sadly missed but definitely not forgotten.

Jem Jedrzejewski

It Bites

 

 

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