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No Bands Last Forever .....
on October 28, 2000
..... but our beloved Boingo's immortal soul is captured lovingly in this, their final and only video concert recording. Along with generous amounts of concert performance, this two-tape set WHICH SHOULD REALLY BE MADE INTO A DVD (hint hint MCA) also includes a bit of Boingo history recap. Some of us in the Los Angeles area were fortunate enough to be witness to Maestro Elfman' s curiously evolving ensemble, which had its genesis as far back as the mid-70s, and it is indeed unfortunate more of those early years were not captured for posterity.
Anyway, along with Frank Zappa's "Baby Snakes", I would have to call "Farewell" the ultimate Halloween party video. The music is also available on CD, but the true Boingo enthusiast would not want to miss out on the live experience. Danny Elfman's stage presence was always formidable, sometimes imposing; when you consider this man's overall musical output, in both rock and film soundtracks, and then watch what he does on stage, his consummate brilliance really hits home. The way he utilizes theatrics, exotic dance moves (quasi-Balinese on "I'm So Bad") and good old bad-boy playing (his onstage roughhousing with bassist John Avila on "No One Lives Forever"), elaborate props (the gargantuan skeletons on "Dead Man's Party"), digressive instrumental line ups (accordion and troubador drum on "Helpless"), and yes, even the inevitable light show (on the psychedelic homage "Change") provides a showmanship that crosses genres, rivals anyone in any style of concert performance.
The other members of the ensemble deliver as well: trusty sideman and guitarist Steve Bartek is a low-key, confident performer of controlled intensity; the horn section of Dale, Leon and Sluggo are a vital element of the Boingo sound, though not on hand for every number, provide that element flawlessly and with high energy, and even the odd vocal (Sluggo on "Reptiles and Samurai"); drummer Johnny Vatos, whose rhythmic precision seemed almost mechanistic in the early days, offers thunderous fluidity in this outing with his own spark of mischief; and John Avila on bass comes closest to matching Elfman's stage energy, proving himself an indispensable buffer and contributor to the legend that was Boingo.
The familiarity and quality of the song selections depends on how closely one has followed the band. I'd say they hit most of the winners here, touched on a few obscurities to the delight of the more hardcore ..... I'd say they could have gotten away with more of the latter: this being their final bow-out, a three tape set would not have been too long. Overall, this collection is a flawless legacy to an American musical treasure, another one of those that will endure and be rediscovered again and again, because REAL music, regardless of genre trappings, is TIMELESS. The fact that this concert was filmed as opposed to merely taped does it proper honor, and the overall production ranks with works like "The Last Waltz" and "Stop Making Sense". "Farewell" is a concert, a documentary, a shared event, a transcendent video treasure.
It is so deserving of a digital transfer. I think I can speak for all Boingoites in urging "Farewell"'s release on DVD. The Mystic Knights command it!