I was fortunate (REALLY fortunate, I live in the Southern U.S.) to have seen Great Big Sea on this tour. In fact, the material for "Courage & Patience & Grit" was recorded just over a month after I saw the band play. So I can say with certainty that this is a pretty close approximation to what I saw.
A previous reviewer complained that the boys look tired. But the album's liner notes reveal that the Hard and the Easy tour was divided into 2 parts: The first half is the more intimate, folk-based side of the band. The 2nd half really kicks things into gear.
This is GBS's third live album, and I was delighted with the 2-part concert approach. Old favorites like "Excursion Around the Bay" and "Mari-Mac" never sounded better, while a stripped-down "Sea of No Cares" is simply breathtaking.
In addition, there are 4 music videos that were not available on the excellent "Great Big DVD" collection from 2004. Longtime fans will surely be thrilled to have the video for "Lukey", which includes members of the Chieftains (and is a different mix of the song than previously released). The video clips for "Shines Right Through", "When I Am King" and "Captain Kidd" are mostly in the same vein as the band's other videos. That is, they're pleasing enough, if not exactly groundbreaking.
If I have one minor complaint about this set, it's the audio CD of the concert. Part of the charm of the band's live sets is their connection both to the audience and to the other band members. This is evident on the DVD, especially Alan and Sean's playful banter leading into "The Mermaid." This is completely absent on the CD (as are four of the concert's songs, a necessary concession due to the limitations of CD recording). But the real problem is that I noticed small gaps in between each track. This is irritating in that it breaks the continuity of the "live" recording. A minor point, like I said, but it just means I probably won't be playing the CD nearly as much as I do my "Great Big DVD" live CD.
If you're a fan, this is certainly a worthwhile--and very reasonably-priced--addition to your collection. It's not quite perfect, but it's ALMOST as good as the "real thing."