Dispatch: Zimbabwe - Live at Madison Square Garden [CD/DVD]
Reuniting in 2007 after a three-year hiatus, Dispatch played a handful of summer gigs in New York City to benefit the crisis-ridden Zimbabwe. Such intentions are creditable, of course, and the fact that Dispatch sold out the monstrous Madison Square Garden -- in 30 minutes, no less -- is a momentous feat for any independent band. Nevertheless, this CD/DVD package is mostly a "fans only" release, and it doesn't offer much more than the All Points Bulletin release from 2004 (apart from a cover of Bob Marley's "War," which only shows up on the DVD). But Dispatch's audience will certainly eat this up, whether they were one of the 20,000 fans in attendance or not. The crowd participation nearly functions as its own instrument here, especially on songs like "Bang Bang" and "General," where the band is seemingly buoyed by several thousand backup singers. It's the power of this audience -- their fandom, their voices, their willingness to travel from several different countries to visit the Garden -- that makes such an event possible, and Dispatch: Zimbabwe is essentially a celebration of that support and its charitable extensions. Add to the mix a African children's choir, a Zimbabwean youth choir, and a quartet of talented bongo players, and you've got a genuine Dispatch celebration -- not one that outsiders will want to gatecrash, necessarily, but a fun gig nevertheless.