Review of Rock Relief: Live in Concert
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Rock Relief: Live in Concert

Reviewed by Jeff Giles

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urricane-ravaged Florida was rocked again by a force of nature when Rick Derringer led an all-star concert into Orlando's Universal Studios for a Musicians for Disaster Relief concert. But this time it was all good...Not only did the show raise money and awareness but it brought together the likes of Michael Bolton, Eddie Money, Loverboy and Twisted Sistertogether on one stage for fiery renditions of legendary hits. And it was all for a good cause!

This DVD's raison d'être, as outlined in the above text from its back cover, is certainly a noble one. It should be said up front that the motivations of the participants are beyond question, and they should all be commended for supporting such a worthwhile cause. It does beg the question, though: If a disaster relief concert is held, and is itself a disaster, who raises money for the concert's victims?

An unnecessarily cheap shot? Perhaps. But this is a review of the performances on the DVD, not what prompted them, and good cause or not, this concert stinks.

It isn't all bad, and honestly, there are some nice surprises: Loverboy's Mike Reno still sounds pretty much the way he did 20 years ago, Dickey Betts' soloing is just as fluid as it ever was, and Derringer's bass player has some genuinely impressive dreadlocks. None of these performances come close to surpassing their studio versions, however, and given that we're talking about songs like Michael Bolton's cover of “When a Man Loves a Woman,” it should be clear that “essential viewing” status is missed by a wide margin.

Ah, Bolton. It must be noted that the balding Isley Brothers plagiarist can still sing/shout as well as he did during his platinum run. If his versions of “Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay” and the aforementioned “When a Man Loves a Woman” didn't offend you the first time around, you're likely to enjoy them here. Resplendent in scarf and glittering brooch (did he accidentally grab Nicolette Sheridan's coat on his way out?) Bolton swans assuredly through his brief three-song set, adding an unexpected, albeit very slight, patina of class to the proceedings.

He certainly fares better than Betts, who – smoking solo aside – comes across as something less than lucid during both his interview segment (he refers to the hurricanes as “a special kind of disaster”) and while singing the lyrics to “Ramblin' Man.” Ditto Eddie Money, who hopefully had laryngitis during the concert, and whose attempts at dancing bring to mind the flailing of a giraffe on ice. (Dishonorable mention goes to the crowd, which refused to respond to any of Money's repeated requests to sing along. It's for charity, folks. Come on.)

And let's not forget Mark Farner. He's made his contributions to rock ‘n’ roll, but when you're contractually obligated to bill yourself as “formerly of Grand Funk Railroad,” it's time to consider a career change. He mugs his way through “Bad Time” and “Some Kind of Wonderful” agreeably enough. But between the sleeveless sequined top and his astounding haircut (really, it looks like he started a mullet-growing contest with Billy Ray Cyrus in 1990, and nobody remembered to tell him it was over) the overall effect is still profoundly sad.

When you add in the DVD's lack of extra material, and the fact that it looks like it was filmed and edited by crewmembers fired from the Jerry Lewis telethon, there's really no reason to own this. Again, Derringer and company deserve all kinds of applause for putting this show together, and with enough beer, the concert itself might even have been sort of fun. But if you really want to help hurricane victims, just make a donation.

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