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Ben Folds Five - The Complete Sessions at West 54th

4.7 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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(Oct 09, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

Complete Ben Folds Five concert from the US TV series, 'Sessions at West 54th'. The sardonic trio split up the year after this was filmed. Includes the songs: 'Brick', 'Battle of Who Could Care Less', 'Philosophy', 'Underground' and a cover of The Flaming Lips' 'She Don't Use Jelly'.

Special Features

  • Bonus footage: Spare Reels, a 45-minute film that contains "live performances and weird scenes from around the world and an intimate look at Ben Folds Five during the studio sessions for their album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner"

Product Details

  • Actors: Ben Folds Five
  • Directors: Jim Gable
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Legacy
  • DVD Release Date: October 9, 2001
  • Run Time: 197 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005Q409
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,024 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am watching this DVD once more as I write this review. Ben Folds Five had great live shows- I know I loved going to them. This DVD features them in a more sober and intimate audience. Their performance is tight. We even catch Ben Folds himslef being slightly uncomfortable and maybe even nervous in this setting. The performances of Smoke and Missing the War are true gems- truly highlighting the depth of Ben Folds' talent at songwriting. Exciting to many will be the performances of "Theme From Dr. Pyser" and a Flaming Lips cover of "She Don't Use Jelly" interpreted as a lounge song. The mix of fifteen songs is great- though I was saddened to find that "Fair" was not among them. Don't be shy because you are looking for a a more frentetic live show- great clips are included in the spare Reels footage and Folds does manage to stomp on the keys and slam down on them with his forearm a few time during the West 54th performance. Even his trademark high-voiced "Are you ready to rock now" appears.
For those to whom the band was dear we find a poingant moment where we can watch a group of talented musicians that never quite fit anywhere- Somehwere in-between obscurity and fame, between indie-rock and pop, between promising debut in their self-titled Ben Folds Five and the critical acclaim(and commercial disapointment) of Rheinhold Messner.
For those who do not know the band- they were the most underrated rock band of the nineties- that provided a refuge both from the absurdly and psudo-morose rockings of the last gasp of "Alternative", the middle of the road mediocrity of Green Day and also a place of shelter from the gratingly mechanical glitter pop whose ressurection began in America with Hanson whose debut came around the time of this performance. Fortunately- still living under the dark clouds of the boys and blondes of Pop- I can kick back with my friends and watch great music being performed by a great band.
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Format: DVD
I'm at a loss for words. I'm beside myself after watching this video now for the first time. I am a huge fan of Ben Folds Five and am one of the unfortunate souls who never got to see them perform live. Nontheless, I am extremely pleased with this purchase and mad at the same time for not going out of my way to see them live when the were together.
After watching this DVD, it made me ponder one important question. Why did they break up? Obviously there's a reason, but the magic that is present in this performance makes you think they would be together for much longer than they were. Who knows? Maybe we'll see them back together soon.
I really wanted to catch the full effect of this show. Since I don't have Dolby 5.1 surround on my DVD player/TV, I decided to watch it on my computer with my headphones. I can honestly say I had goosebumps through the majority of the show. The camera angles and sound quality are, for lack of a better word, perfect. I might enjoy a widescreen version, though. No matter. It's still incredible. I could hear every little snare hit, finger slide, and breath of the concert. I don't believe one miniscule detail was left out of this performance. It is top notch in my book.
One thing I've come to expect from good bands is that they sound as good live as they do on record. How many bands make incredible albums, but just don't cut it when it comes to performing on stage? I can think of plenty. Not Ben Folds Five. They are as accurate as a band can get. There are several times when the guys go off track and experiment a bit. On the final track, "Song For the Dumped," Robert Sledge actually makes a trip hop beat with his bass. Pretty impressive if you ask me.
There is not one track on this entire disk that should be skipped over.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I've been to a few concerts in my life, and have seen countless numbers on television and VHS alike. But if I had to assemble a list of performances that I thought were the best, you can bet "The Complete Sessions at West 54th" would be on there. Taped on the now defunct PBS show "Sessions at West 54th" Ben Folds Five put on a brilliant peformance that was up until now not available in it's entirety.
The band spares no expense and performs songs that will be familiar to many Ben Folds Five fan's. From their debut album there is "The Last Polka", "Underground" and "Philosophy". Most of the songs however come from their best album "Whatever And Ever Amen", such as "Missing The War", "Brick", "Kate", "Battle Of Who Could Care Less" and "Song for the dumped". Their cover of The Flaming Lips "She Don't Use Jelly" was another welcome change of pace in a great performance.
The DVD itself is right up there with the performance, with extra features that are sure to satisfy. By checking out the Spare Reels footage you are treated to scenes of the band on tour performing several songs, and a look at them in the studio recording for "The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner".
I strongly recommend that every Ben Folds Five fan at least try to see this performance in it's entirety just once. And if you feel so inclined go ahead and pick it up, you wont regret it.
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