DVD Review: Live at Freedom Hall (Perrys)

Rating: 4.5 (of 5)

Average Song Rating: 5 (of 5)

Producer: Chris White.

Song List: Damascus Road; He Will Hide Me; Living in Canaan; God Walks the Dark Hills; I Wish I Could Have Been There; Who am I; I Know It Was the Blood; The Potter Knows the Clay; Come and Get Me; Holy Shore.

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This video is the Perrys’ first since 1999. It is their first DVD featuring the group in its current alto/lead/baritone/bass configuration; in fact, speaking in technical terms (DVD vs. VHS), I believe it is their first DVD. As the cost of recording videos goes up, an increasing number of groups have chosen to release DVDs of footage from their performances at the National Quartet Convention; it features footage from their three 2006 and three 2007 mainstage appearances.

Typically, when a group releases a live-at-NQC video, they use footage from one year’s apparances. The Perrys’ choice to go with highlights from two years—feasible since they had the same lineup at both conventions—let them choose the moments that came out the best technically and musically. Since a typical set allows a group to sing at least four songs, they had roughly 24 songs from which to select the final 10.

Coupling the high-quality recording setup at the National Quartet Convention with the opportunity to be very selective weeding out performances make Live at Freedom Hall a high-quality DVD. The Perrys have been on the main stage for enough years to be comfortable enough to build rapport with their audiences. (When I refer to being comfortable on stage, the 2007 footage does have a slight edge over the 2006 footage, since Nick Trammell was new to the Perrys in 2006 and Joseph Habedank was new to the lead position. They did well in 2006 but were more comfortable and confident in 2007.)

For the most part, the transitions from song to song are smooth enough, especially considering the jump is a year at points. The only slightly awkward transition is at the start of “Who am I.” One of the most memorable moments was when Mark Trammell introduced the song during the Mark Trammell Trio’s set and sang the first verse. Then, without any announcement or further ado, he walked off stage as Joseph Habedank walked on, singing the second verse. After the second verse, the Perrys walked on stage as Libbi Perry Stuffle took the lead on the chorus and finished to an enthusiastic response. They then did an acapella encore and the audience enthusiasm went through the roof. On the video, Mark Trammell’s verse is cut; the song starts with Joseph Habedank’s second verse. (This slightly awkward cut led to a half-star being deducted from the rating.)

Despite the setting being somewhat unique, this video captures the essence of a Perrys concert well.

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