Danko Jones is quite the character. A man who’s dipped his toe into many areas of the arts world from music to presenting to writing to spoken word… but his core is the first in that list. Creating and playing some nice, straight forward rock and roll music. This release focuses on that… but gives us a nice sample of his spoken word as well. Live at Wacken is a two-disc set; one CD and a DVD.
The DVD mainly consists of the band’s 2015 live show from Wacken (minus one track, “Active Volcanoes”, for some reason), with a couple of nice extras – Danko’s lecture on KISS from Wacken 2012, an exclusive interview and Danko’s own commentary over the top of the live show. The CD is the audio from the set and may be the reason for the missing song, just so the whole set fits!
The setlist itself is about as varied as is possible with – I believe – every album getting a look in. Most tracks come from Fire Music, but there’s a great spread from Danko Jones to Never To Loud to Black and Blue. Between-song chat isn’t hugely prevalent, but when it comes, it’s in Jones’ typical gravelly tones and – to a large extent – quite egotistical. This seems to be part of Jones’ stage persona – bigger than life – and it’s something that really adds to his live performance.
As he acknowledges at one point, he’s not one to play widdly guitar being more skilled at a mean power chord and this sums up their sound in a nutshell. Simple, rampant, catchy rock and roll. This recording catches that perfectly, and the CD is a good enough way to appreciate it but the DVD is one step further with a much richer and deeper sound. Obviously, the visuals also help, but the audio is definitely of a better quality and it’s just the thing to kick back to with a beer.
The aforementioned extras are actually quite good, though the kind of thing you’ll only bother with once unless you’re a major fan. To have a commentary over a live show is something new to me and it’s pretty interesting. I’d not expect many more artists to do it, but I enjoyed the novelty. The interview is… well, it’s an interview and if you’re a fan then there may be some new facts in there which you didn’t know before.
The highlight for me, though, is the spoken word show from Wacken 2012. The blurb tells you that it focusses on his fixation with KISS, but not exactly how that fixation manifests. Well, let me tell you it’s worth a watch. It’s part thought-provoking, part “should I cringe”, part car-crash… but it is interesting! I’m loathe to say more unless I spoil it for anyone so THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Danko’s focus is on a conspiracy theory that Peter Criss died in a car crash in 1978. The band have, apparently, spent over thirty years covering it up and mourning him by placing incredibly subtle images in album art and the like. Seriously, it’s a bit mental… but it does drag you in for some reason. It’s an hour of “WTF”, frankly! The climax is a mini-documentary about a two-piece tribute band called KRISS, filmed by Jones himself.
For the non-fan, this is a decent “best of” collection. If you already worship at the altar of Danko then I doubt you’ll be disappointed if you choose to add this to your collection.
Live at Wacken is released on March 4th