|Donnie Vie - 'Goodbye : Enough Z'Nuff' (Cargo Records/Livewire)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Wednesday, 05 February 2014 03:00|
Times change and we with time. Spare a thought for the loyal Enuff Z'Nuff fan in 2013: within the space of seven months the most fervent of band supporters would, no doubt, have seen the famed Illinois power pop outfit tour the UK with an increasingly estranged Donnie Vie, then watch as the frontman parted company with the band, again, and partake of a solo acoustic tour of Britain within two months, then see EZN undertake another UK trek with the re-recruited Johnny Monaco handling vocal and lead guitar duties. Again.
Confused? You shouldn't be, because this fractured EZN existence has evolved over a dozen years now, ever since Vie first decided to quit touring with the band and Monaco stepped up to the mic. The difference in 2013 compared to 2002 was that Donnie didn't simply settle on being little more than cannon fodder for the animals with questionable intelligence on the Metal Sludge message board, instead pulling himself together quickly - surprisingly quickly, if the truth be told - and getting straight back on the horse.
Credit where credit's due, you might say: but the credit here goes some considerable way towards Baz Francis, the Magic Eight Ball mainman who, single-handedly it would seem, pulled Donnie back from staring into the abyss and convinced him, the difficulty of which will only ever be truly known to two talented song writers, to knuckle down rather than give up.
Some two years after witnessing Francis support Vie on a solo UK tour, I was happy to witness the support being given in a wholly different capacity. The pair went out on a tour of the United Kingdom dubbed 'The Magical History Tour', a storyteller-type show promised from Donnie Vie, Baz bringing up the rear with a near perfect crowd- and heart-warming slot on the undercard. The results, live, were impressive, the feeling of being up close and personal with song writing genius not lost on the clued-in patronage of each and every venue on the tour.
Now, the magic captured on that tour can be discovered by those who missed it, or rediscovered by those with enough musical nous to have been a witness to the capturing of acoustic lightning in a bottle.
The keenly-titled 'Goodbye : Enough Z'Nuff' is an aural and visual document of 'The Magical History Tour', a fourteen track compact disc coupled with a 45 (count 'em!) chapter DVD featuring raw footage of the dates: songs, warts 'n' all.
Recorded at three dates - two Welsh (The Garage, Swansea and the Ebbw Vale Institute) and one English (Burnham Mews) - the live disc opens with 'For Now' and journeys throughout Donnie's tumultuous career to date, ending with a somewhat prophetic 'Goodbye'.
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Lewis John, with select assistance from the multi-tasking Baz Francis, the album itself sounds great, doing a fine job of capturing the relaxed atmosphere and pure, raw emotions on show.
Sure, it'll hardly be considered one of the greatest live albums of all time, but it was never meant to be. This is a historical artefact of a time and a place, and the people responsible for its documenting should be immensely proud of themselves, for this is basically a D.I.Y. job that stands head and shoulders above many of its contemporaries. And that's before you even get to the songs themselves.
Francis joins Vie for four songs: the aforementioned 'Goodbye', 'Someday', 'You Got A Hold Of Me', and 'New Thing'; his gorgeous backing vocals complimenting Vie's oft-smoky rasp perfectly. The 'standards' are here, of course; but who wouldn't want to hear Donnie, unplugged and uninhibited, oozing class over 'Holly Wood Ya' or 'Fly High Michelle'? Not me.
Plucking much-loved tunes from the likes of 'Tweaked', 'Animals With Human Intelligence' and 'Peach Fuzz', Donnie pulls it out of the bag consistently when things could, theoretically at least, have careened into train wreck territory. Vie exhibits great resilience, his 'guardian angel' Francis a new-found maturity that will stand him in good stead for his most promising musical career, if he hasn't nailed it already with 'Sorry We're Late But We're Worth The Wait', the great new album from Magic Eight Ball.
Where Donnie Vie goes from here is anyone's guess, and you'd probably get short odds on him returning to Enuff Z'Nuff HQ in the future, but, with good people around him, he need not fear being rejected by the in crowd.
This new live album - the DVD a nice addition for the completists and the curious - stands up alongside the EZN/Vie back catalogue, whether everyone agrees that it belongs there or not.
Life's too short to take sides: instead of questioning a trip down the downward spiral at every turn, just throw caution to the wind and take a ride on the love train.