I’m glad to report however, that the problems I perceived are largely absent and Serj was fully justified in releasing this symphonic live concert.
As well as songs from the Elect The Dead album, there are two brand new songs `Gate 21,’ and `The Charade,’ as well as two more non album tracks `Blue,’ and `Falling Stars.’
Another reason that this concert works so well is that the songs have been pretty severely rearranged to suit the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, it seems more like an MTV Unplugged version of Elect the Dead was given the symphony treatment than the existing versions. There is no distorted guitar whatsoever, no bass guitar and no drum kit as all percussion is handled by the orchestra.
The concert’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. This concert relies a great deal more on the Orchestra than any other Rock/Orchestra cross over I’ve ever seen, which while making it unique and impressive may alienate some fans who were expecting a mixture of the band and the orchestra more in line with Kiss’s Alive 4 or Metallica’s S&M orchestral concerts.
Some songs suit the style more than others, with the chorus of `Money,’ for example, seeming clumsy. Songs like `Elect the Dead,’ and `Saving Us,’ however are amazing and truly feel grand with the powerful backing of the Orchestra.
In terms of the DVD, the visuals, camerawork, direction and editing are spot on, they really couldn’t have done a better job its almost worth watching just as a demonstration on how to correctly make a concert DVD. The sound is similarly perfect, the only place where quality comes into play are your individual opinions on the arrangements and how well Serj’s voice carries live. In my opinion, Serj nails it here with a faultless performance that in some instances surpasses the original album versions, but a few listeners may not be so convinced.
Overall, Elect The Dead Symphony is a very good concert, with top notch sound and visuals. If you feel that a stripped down version of the songs augmented by a huge Orchestra is for you then give it a try.