When you stop and consider all the supergroups that popped up out of the woodwork in the mid-'00s, Velvet Revolver were easily the most bankable of them all. Merging refugees from the Guns N' Roses camp with the larger-than-life presence of Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland, Velvet Revolver had a formula that was destined for glory. Their debut album, Contraband, quickly topped the charts, earning the band a successful string of radio hits and a live show that likely made Axl Rose ooze with jealousy, thus setting the release of Chinese Democracy back a number of years. So it's easy to understand why their first live DVD, "Velvet Revolver: Live in Houston," is seeing a release even over half a decade after its filming and nearly three years after the band went belly up and Weiland retreated back to his old job.
Presented by Eagle Rock, who is more or less the DVD equivalent of VH1, "Live in Houston" finds Velvet Revolver in its prime. Allegedly clean and sober, the boys rock out like they are having the time of their lives with the sort of camaraderie that makes one wonder why they could only eek out two albums before farting out (but then you remember that Weiland is a basketcase nowadays and it sort of makes sense). The band -- consisting of ex-Gunners Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum along with hanger-on Dave Kushner -- rip through a set that is heavy on the band's debut, as well as classics from both the GNR and STP catalogues. Frontman Scott Weiland hits the stage looking like a Village People outcast, but brings all of the bold flavor and intensity audiences have come to expect of the performer. Say what you will about the guy's personal issues, but he sure knows how to handle a crowd like the best of them and sounds nearly flawless to boot. Likewise for the band, who pulls off each number professionally and precisely while giving way to a lengthy jam here and there (see: "Illegal I"). The guys seem to enjoy Scott's presence and are likely grateful to have a more emotionally stable singer to latch onto. At the very least, this set solidifies the notion that Duff and Slash belong together and without one or both, any post-GNR endeavor is doomed to fail.
The set is unfortunately interrupted all too often by an overzealous editor who seems to be experimenting with Avid for the very first time. Never mind the pointless cutaway scenes of a young female in uniform which go unexplained, the visual trickery that is so blatantly overused nearly undermines the enjoyability of the band's performance. Whoever started this trend in music videos of cutting every two seconds needs to be brought before a jury already. Like most Eagle Rock releases, the DVD is without special features; however, there are snippets of interviews between songs that cover the beginnings of the band. Although none of this information may be new to those who followed the band from its inception, it's still a nice inclusion and thankfully doesn't interrupt the songs themselves.
Overall, it's a good concert and the band sounds excellent. If you can forgive some stale visuals and poor-editing, Velvet Revolver's first (and last?) live DVD dishes up a more than satisfying chunk of good old rock n' roll from a group of tried and true professionals. Even if you're merely up for some '00s nostalgia already, "Live in Houston" will more than suffice. Just don't expect the announcement of a new singer to come up anytime soon.