Pat Metheny Group – We Live Here: Live in Japan (2013)

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Pat Metheny is such an accomplished figure that it’s easy to overlook his cohorts in the Metheny Group — making this new live document an endlessly instructive journey.

Better still, for me, is the fact that We Live Here: Live in Japan captures them on tour in support of an album I’ve always wanted to like more than I ever could. Blame their inclusion of samples and drum loops, a then-modern conceit that felt instantly dated to me. Those studio tricks are left aside in the live setting, however, and We Live Here absolutely springs to life. The clanking computerized rhythms on “Here to Stay,” for instance, are replaced by an undulating cadence from Paul Wertico and Armando Marcal.

Too, We Live Here was, as this concert film reminds, one of the Pat Metheny Group’s most collaborative efforts — with all but one song co-written by Metheny and Lyle Mays. (Mays’ utterly gorgeous “Episode D’Asur” is given a sumptuous new reading here, too, by the way.) This Takayuki Watanabe production makes clear each individual’s larger contribution to the whole.

Taken together, they make We Live Here: Live in Japan a must-have for those, like me, who never quite connected with one of Metheny’s most modern works.

Elsewhere, the Group moves across a dizzying array of styles and forms — from the angular eruptions of Metheny’s concert staple “Scrap Metal” to the heartfelt reverie of “Antonia,” originally found on Metheny’s terrific 1992 solo effort Secret Story — with snippets of comments by Metheny, Mays, Wertico, Steve Rodby and others serving as connective bridges. Another intriguing moment arrives when vocalists David Blamires and Mark Ledford add new flavors to an update of “This is Not America,” originally sung by David Bowie for The Falcon and the Snowman soundtrack.

Leave it to We Live Here to provide the evening’s unquestioned high point, however, as the Metheny Group builds “To the End of the World” into an appropriately apocalyptic crescendo. Live in Japan has me hearing this source material in a whole new way.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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