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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > 16 Horsepower Live (DVD-Video)

16 Horsepower Live (Music DVD-Video)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: B     Film: B



The music made by the now defunct 16 Horsepower can be difficult to categorize.  In a review I wrote about them years ago I described them as something like “Appalachian gothic gospel punk.”  Although all of those things are true that depiction neither narrows it down nor does it justice.


What they were, primarily, was powerful.  16 Horsepower was a three-piece group (with occasional guest musicians for live shows), comprised of Jean Yves Tola on drums, Pascal Humbert on bass, and multi-instrumentalist David Eugene Edwards as singer-songwriter.  Together they produced music that, while overtly Christian, never felt as though they were proselytizing.  Elements of the everyday were played against the Divine, elevating the mundane struggle of the common man to mythic proportions in songs that were at once somber, brooding, and celebratory.  All of their studio albums are inspired pieces of work, but it was on stage where the band reached true brilliance.


16 Horsepower Live is a two-disc DVD set featuring three concerts.  All three, while varied in the quality of the camera work and direction, capture the essence of 16 Horsepower.  Edwards' presence is remarkable.  He sits on a stool for the entire performance, playing a banjo, or a guitar, or the bandonion (an accordion-like instrument), and never moves except to lean into the microphone.  His voice reflects and complements the power of the music around him as he seems to become a conduit for something greater.  Whether one believes in his religion or not it’s hard not to feel in the presence of something sacred.


The first disc is a full-length concert filmed at the Cirque Royal in Brussels in 2002.  The second disc has two shorter shows; the first from earlier in their career (1996), and a second of what proved to be their final show on July 17, 2004.  They split not long after.  Edwards continues to record albums under the name Woven Hand.


In addition to the DVD, Alternative Tentacles have re-released Hoarse, 16 Horsepower’s live CD, which is also solid and worth getting.  The sound is fine on both and it is a great opportunity to get (re-)acquainted with the band.



-   Wayne Wise



Wayne Wise was lucky enough to see 16 Horsepower twice and to write about them on several occasions.  His beliefs differ from those of the band but for the duration of the shows he was a convert.  He still is to the music.


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