Filmed live during a December 2003 concert, “Live at Brixton Academy” is Good Charlotte’s DVD attempt at taking the Brits by storm with their easily digestible brand of punk-pop. This well-produced performance DVD lasts about an hour-and-change and, if nothing else, is the very definition of modern-day band dependability.
We see the Waldorf, Md.-born band preen a bit, jump on stage in unison and show off their tattoos. There doesn’t appear to be a real bad boy in the bunch, which probably suits their largely female fan audience just fine.
Lead singer Benji attempts to work the crowd into a light froth, clutching the microphone in a death grip and staying on key, though his voice is a bit graveled. This concert was one of the band’s last, wrapping up a long tour before heading back to the United States, so if he comes off a bit tired, it’s to be expected.
Benji shouts “What’s up London?” a few times, a moment he’s probably dreamed of for many years as the band plied the small circuit scene up until its hit album “The Young and the Hopeless.”
The camera work that follows Benji is great. When the panning shots come from the back of the stage, we see the drummer working furiously while staring out at the ornate Brixton balcony.
The crowd really gets into “Girls and Boys,” a song about the materialistic machinations of young love.
“Girls don’t like boys/ Girls like cars and money,” Benji sings as the young girls in the audience hoisted high on the shoulders of their boyfriends chant along with glee.
The fellows handle “Riot Girl” and “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” well too, though they seem to be going through the tour-ending motions on other tracks.
One can help but get the feeling that Good Charlotte is, however, a band that is too concerned with the limits imposed by the industry and management around them. They’ve got the prerequisite rock tattoos, scowls, bad-boy sneers and such down to an art, but they never really let loose with any honest abandon here. This is a controlled set when the fivesome could have delivered more.
There’s a mini-documentary on the DVD as well, showing a few pointless segments of the band walking around London, pretending to be interested in architecture, but looking sleepy instead.
Fans of the band will dig this DVD, and the surround-sound setting option is great if you’ve got the hardware. But others wondering what the fuss is all about with Good Charlotte will likely come away unimpressed.
For all of Good Charlotte’s visual bluster, this is safe rock fodder.