Various Artists | Moogfest 2006 – DVD Review


Robert Moog’s electronic keyboard has revolutionized the way music can be shaped and shifted with a few clever mechanical embellishments and a lot of imagination. Since the late 60s, everyone from the Beatles to Radiohead has enlisted the Moog to develop a special blend of soundscapes, aural collages, and the occasional bleep. Moog himself wasn’t a musician, but rather an engineer who reveled in the sounds that others created with his invention. Since 2004, Moog has been honored for his achievements with Moogfest, an annual concert in New York City that gathers together some of the world’s greatest musicians to play the Moog and pay their respects to its inventor. Moogfest 2006 was especially poignant, being the first Moogfest to take place since Dr. Moog passed on August 22, 2005, and the new DVD from the show, Moogfest 2006 Live, vividly captures all the action up close and never morose.

Filmed live at the B.B. King Blues Club in the heart of Times Square, the DVD features no less than Keith Emerson, Jan Hammer, Jordan Rudess, Bernie Worrell, Roger O’Donnell, the Mahavishnu Project and DJ Logic. Rudess, whose mastery of the keys is a big reason why Dream Theater soars over many of their prog rock peers, speaks his mind about Bob Moog and Moogfest before opening the show with a wondrous display of Moogery and mischief. Clearly, Rudess can take the keyboards to an otherworldly level that few could ascend. Parliament’s Bernie Worrell cuts the rug with D.J Logic for an odd mix of old school funk and new school hip hop.

Out of nowhere, the Cure’s Roger O’Donnell reaps praise on the Moog before twinkling the keys for a few well-intentioned, well-thought out measures. The DVD sort of loses its step from here. First, a few words from Jan Hammer, who muses about playing, followed by the Mahavishnu Project…without Hammer. Adam Holzman then sings praises about his Moogfest experiences and is followed by another upbeat performance by the Mahavishnu Project, this time with Hammer behind the boards (and some assistance from Holzman), indulging himself with enough Mahavishnu and Jeff Beck licks to keep the crowd at bay.

A cutaway to DJ Logic talking about the Moog and his uncle Bernie Worrell precedes an extended performance by the Keith Emerson Band, who dive headlong into “Living Sin,” bending and twisting its furled notes like a python in heat. Guitarist Marc Bonilla gives the song an open-wounded double-edge, his cascading guitar lines and wraithlike vocalizations turning the tune on its side. Emerson and Bonilla then go on to cast “Lucky Man” in a new mold, without removing the sheen from the keyboardist’s famous solo, one that many cite as the key to unlocking the potential of the Moog as a viable and commercial musical instrument. From there, the two, along with drummer Pete Riley and bassist Phil Williams, run wild with a truly warped, mutated version of “Tarkus.” Reportedly, this number was so impressive that at least half the audience blew over to Manny’s after the show in search of their own Little Phatty to plunder and shake armadillos and tanks out of their metallic skins. Well, at least, that’s what the Post reported.

~ Shawn Perry

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