After releasing their first album in 1996, power pop purists Fountains of Wayne finally deliver their debut DVD, No Better Place - Live in Chicago, 13 years later. While that may seem a little late in the game, it's about right on schedule for FoW time. After all, this is a band that earned a Grammy nomination for best new artist after releasing their third album and scoring their first (and, so far, only) bonafide hit with "Stacy's Mom" in 2003.
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No Better Place was filmed in 2005, after the band issued the terrific B-side double CD compilation Out-of-State Plates and the concert showcases tunes from their entire catalog to that point, while the band is in top form musically throughout. The theater setting is just a tad polite -- with the group on an expansive stage and the audience standing in neat rows in front of their seats -- but that seems to suit a band now made up of low-key, middle-aged guys and their audience of a similar vintage. It certainly allows the focus to settle on the excellent songwriting of singer/guitarist Chris Collingwood and bassist Adam Schlesinger. Their songs are sweetly melodic and belie the suburban ennui and outright heartbreak contained in many of their lyrics. Of course, there's plenty of humorous lyrics, too, on tunes such as the aforementioned "Stacy's Mom" and the sublime "Red Dragon Tattoo."
The crowning glory of the DVD is a five song, live acoustic set filmed in a recording studio last year. Schlesinger shows a deft touch on a golden grand piano while Collingwood and guitarist Jody Porter strum up a storm on acoustic guitars. The songs performed are deep cuts from the catalog, but this setting shows them to be the equal of any of the band's better known numbers.
Fountains of Wayne's No Better Place - Live in Chicago is in stores today.