This DVD/CD set chronicles the Cowboy Junkies' 2001 "Open Road" tour, in support of their album "Open". The DVD has four segments: a picture slideshow of sorts, a plugged-in performance in Quebec, an acoustic performance in Toronto, and an interview segment. The CD has a few live tracks recorded on the tour.
The first segment of the DVD is the picture slideshow. It is instantly forgettable. If you simply put it in for background music, it's fine (after all, the songs are all live from the tour), but there is really no reason to pay attention to the video. It's like watching someone's vacation pictures set to music. It's not bad, really, but it's not something that needs to be watched again.
The second segment of the DVD is the performace of the full band in Quebec City. One of the best parts of this segment is the inclusion of the complete River Trilogy: the lilting "River Waltz", the sad "Bea's Song" (this is one of my favourite songs, and this version is perfect), and the haunting "Dragging Hooks".
The third segment of the DVD is an acoustic performance, featuring just Michael Timmins and Margo Timmins. This gives us a view into another side of the Cowboy Junkies, and one that is just as essential as with the full band. Here, the music is stripped back to the bare bones: Michael on an acoustic guitar, and Margo singing the always-insightful lyrics. They included "Thousand-Year Prayer" on this segment as well as the previous plugged-in segment, which gives us two different perspectives on that song.
The interview segment with Margo and Michael is interesting enough, although I'm not sure that it is the sort of thing that would stand up to repeating watchings. The questions that are asked are insightful, and Margo and Michael seem reasonably comfortable as they answer the questions, but I'm not sure that I will ever watch it again. They perform a handful of tracks from "Open" during this segment, including a lovely version of "Small Swift Birds".
The CD is quite lovely. The version of "Bread and Wine" is a strong one, and "Escape Is So Simple" is gorgeous and sad. I'm very glad that they included this CD. I only wish that the audio from the DVD were included here, if only to save me from having to figure out how to get it off of the DVD and into my iPod.
I have a few complaints about this release. First, a certain word in "Small Swift Birds" is blipped out in both performances of the song. Second, the documentantary slideshow really isn't all that interesting. Third, the audio quality is good, but it would be so much better if it were recorded in surround sound. Fourth, the camera work on the interview segment isn't the best; it was obviously done by someone with a single handycam mounted on a tripod. These complaints are small ones, but it's what prevents me from giving this DVD/CD set a fifth star. If Amazon allowed me, I'd give it 4.5 stars. It's close to that fifth star, but it's just shy.