Reviewed by Paul Loader
Larry Norman and musical friends including The Fjord Motor Company, Mark Lemhouse and The Severin Sisters come together to perform a Christmas concert in Salem, Oregon. Now, if you were fan of the great man himself, and you want something that is quintessentially Larry then this DVD is very much for you. However, if you are looking for something in which to dip your toe for the first time I would come back to this at a later date when you, like so many others, are a fan. Sadly I watched this DVD with a heavy heart as the great man himself was clearly extremely ill at this point and looking frail and tired. He explained his situation right at the beginning of the concert stating that he'd had chronic bronchitis for a period of about five months and had been in hospital eight times. It was obviously an extreme effort for him to sing and his voice was, to be honest, "broken" and his hands were also worn out and damaged making playing the guitar painful for him. However, the rock and roll spirit had not died and he soldered on regardless performing half of the concert solo and then sharing songs with the various musicians on the second half. It was difficult not to sob when he sang "UFO" and "I Wish We'd All Be Ready". The power of those songs is still there and able to deliver. "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus", a song it would appear that Larry wrote for Janis Joplin, was as moving as it was powerful and "Moses" brought a big smile to my face. The second half is a little more eclectic as Larry let the others perform their own material or Christmas classics (you'll be alright as long as you like banjos). Larry came back on stage more towards the end and the last six songs were standard Christmas carols, which everybody will enjoy. The whole concert had an intimate feel and I felt drawn in as part of the Larry Norman family as if I was saying goodbye to the man (the Lord took him home in February 2008). I could have done without the constant feedback that the sound guy struggled with throughout the second part of the gig, but it did leave the viewer with a feeling that they we actually there. In conclusion. We watched the concert as a family. Both my teenage children left the room in disgust; this was not the highly polished production job they were used to. My wife and I however sat transfixed in a haze of fond memories and just a little sadness that we were watching the swansong of one our childhood heroes (this actually turned out to be his last concert). Larry Norman was I suppose the first Christian rock star and to some extent it was sad to watch him in this condition. However, it did give the viewer the opportunity to be part of a concert that had allowed Larry to say goodbye.
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