DVD Review “The Jeff Healey Band: Live in Belgium”

The Jeff Healey Band: Live in Belgium
DVD + CD
Eagle Vision
Total Running Time: 82 minutes

Our Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Eagle Vision’s raid of The Jeff Healey Band vault continues with this latest entry, a July 1993 show from the Peers Blues Festival in Belgium. As was always the case, Jeff and his band mates serve up a full-course meal of fiery blues in which every song features a guitar solo from Healey that usually rates with those played by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton. And the fact that he’s scorching the fretboard is made all the more impressive by the fact that Healey was blind from age one until his untimely passing in 2008 at the age of 41.

Six of the disc’s thirteen songs are culled from the 1992’s “Feel This”, the album that the JHB was touring to support when this show was recorded. Perennial favorites such as “Confidence Man”, “Angel Eyes”, and his cover of “Roadhouse Blues” – which was featured in the 1989 Patrick Swayze star-vehicle “Road House”, a film in which Healey also appeared – are also represented. And the best is saved for last in the form of a gritty cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.

On the whole, the performance is good and has the added bonus of featuring a keyboardist and a female backing vocalist – something that was a rare occurrence within the context of a JHB concert. However, it’s not nearly as energetic as the 1991 show that’s included on as part of the 3-CD + 1-DVD “Full Circle: The Live Anthology” set that was released in November of last year. Whereas 1991 saw Healey full of energy and included bits where he played his axe behind his head and with his feet, he seems somewhat on the sleepier side throughout this gig. The DVD is fairly lackluster on its own but would have been a superb addition to “Anthology” given that it would have sandwiched itself nicely between the 1989, 1991 and 1995 shows that are included in that box set.

The overall audio and video quality of “Live in Belgium” isn’t great, as it’s clear that the source is a low-resolution video tape. The liner notes (which were, for reasons still unbeknownst, not included in “Anthology”) don’t attempt to hide this, though, and freely admit that the source was “a mess”. Their efforts are truly appreciated as the resultant product is one that achieves the goal of preserving one of a scarce number of JHB shows that were actually documented.

Despite its flaws, “Live in Belgium” is a worthwhile DVD and, for those who aren’t already in the know, more than adequately serves as an introduction to this under-appreciated guitar great’s legacy.

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