Live at The Fillmore (1998)

This release comes complete with beautiful horror-Disney packaging and is a record of the last of the Autumn 1997 shows at The Fillmore in San Francisco.

The first CD features 'Act One' of the performance, which is divided neatly into two parts; Louisiana and Freaks. After a rousing entrance to the music from the original King Kong film the Residents treat us to versions of Jambalaya and 44 played over the same pulsing, hypnotic swampbeat. The singing Resident introduces the story of the Gingerbread Man before the band launch into a storming version of The Ageing Musician before more characters from the Gingerbread Man concept are introduced (all while a background of low frequencies disconcerts the listener). 'Freaks' reaccquaints us with characters from the Freak Show and Bad day On The Midway. Thus we get to hear Lottie singing her song to the accompaniment of a booming circus big drum, Tex the barker from the Freak Show sings Loss Of Innocence (a song from the Commercial Album which pointed the way to later themes and projects) and this first act ends with an awesome rendition of Benny The Bouncing Bump, all dazzling chord sequences and weird time signatures. Some of Act One is a bit dragged out (Ted comes to mind) and it's obvious that a lot of it is lost on you if you weren't there (and that isn't just sour grapes ok). I was never too keen on the Gingerbread Man music and, with the exception of The Ageing Musician, it doesn't do a great deal for me here either.

The second act is devoted largely to Disfigured Night, sounding quite different to the Viva TV version recorded at the 1997 Pop-Komm Festival in Germany. I think the bass guitar has been replaced with a tinnier synth bass sound which I'm not so keen on but the version of We Are The World is, insanely, even more over the top so what can I say? If you liked the original Disfigured Night, you'll like this, and if you've never had the chance to hear it before then you're in for a treat. The Residents choose very wisely (if slightly fan-pleasingly) to give us Hello Skinny and This Is A Man's Man's Man's World as an encore. The singing Resident actually addresses the audience directly, which apparently is a first, in introducing the latter song.

After more King Kong music the CD winds down with a diabolically sickly-sweet version of We Are The World fashioned in the most horrible midifiles-in-a-Korg-M1 elevator music from hell way you could ever imagine. Is this a dig at your anti-midi types? (I'd like to think so). So there you go, a valuable document of some undoubtedly superb shows that I never got to see (sob!). But, if you want to listen to a really well-performed Disfigured Night, you should try to get a video version of D.N. in Cologne.