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Roots of Creation | Live at Bella Terra

album review by John Powell

Roots of Creation | Live at Bella Terra

Roots of Creation fans definitely await the release of a new studio album, as Rise Up is six years old and the band has clearly progressed since then, diving headfirst into jam centricity. Reggae-rooted, they aren’t afraid to traipse into deep, deep dub, into jam ala Umphrey’s McGee, into funk, blues, ska, and metal. This makes for a set of songs that can’t be boring.

Singer Brett Wilson croons, raps, yells, and then wails away on guitar. Tal Pearson holds down reggae counter rhythms and then turns up his synths and comes up with crazy noises. Mike Chadinha is able to drum his way from swing time to one drops in a heartbeat, Sam Revenna is an underrated bass player, and Jay McGuinnes pairs perfectly with Brett.

Live at Bella Terra is really a fans only endeavor. As a DVD/CD combo, there are really two mediums to critique. The album is fire! Well-mixed for a live concert, everything shines through. The set list pulls from old material (“That’s How Strong My Love is”) to fresh material (“Different”). The jams aren’t too long, and luckily RoC never plays the same song in the same way twice.

“3 Men in a Tub Dub” explodes, much tighter than what they recorded in the studio all those years ago. “Oh Lord” has become a classic RoC track, rootsy and funky and totally sexual, a mainstay for their setlist, as is “Universal Soldier”.

It’s not until four songs in, on “Searchin’”, that they really cut loose, jamming out for six minutes, pulling into the tight chorus and then spiraling off into danceable solo trading and breakdowns. “Searchin’” is a good song anyway, so they take the opportune festival setting to let it unfold into all its potential.

Another key moment is “Rise Up” into “3x a Lady”. The songs are quite different thematically, but in this live setting it’s all about the instrumental transition. They solo into the second half’s tight roots easy skank. Wonderfully done and proof that RoC is all about the live show, (clearly, as this is their third live disc in a row).

The only thumbs-down comes from the closer, Marley’s “Exodus”. Okay, sure, that song is amazing. It’s also overdone and it’s not like RoC doesn’t have songs that are as good. “Dubomb”, “Death March”, or “Policy” would have been better to end with. I get the glory of finishing a great festival set with a song everyone knows, but RoC is capable of something deadlier.

The DVD of the same set is not the best quality, which is why I say it’s for fans only, (unlike the CD, which is for everyone!). The festival didn’t have that many cameras in position, and they focus on Brett. You rarely see Mike at the kit, Sam, or Jay. The lighting is fuzzy. The sound is great and it’s the same set list as the disc, which, as mentioned, has some amazing moments, but the video doesn’t offer more than the CD provides, although fans will love having an RoC concert to watch in their living room.

The DVD comes with a bonus show, “Stoned at Church”, a concert from 2012 at the Stone Church in Newmarket, NH. This is a much better video. The camera work is more fluid and the set list is varied. RoC also seems to be having a lot more fun in their hometown. It’s a looser feeling on stage. The DVD is worth it for this other concert, for sure.

Fans will eat this up. It’s more from a band that tends to kill it on stage every time and I highly recommend they pick this up. What we’re all really waiting for is new songs! “Different” is a great new track and it’d be great to get more new songs live. At any rate, Bella Terra. Go for it.

Bottom line: A DVD/CD combo that takes on RoC’s heavy hitting songs with great jams and transitions. A must have for fans.


 

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