Archive for DVD Reviews

DVD Review – Joe Bonamassa, Live From the Royal Albert Hall DVD (2010)

Written by Bill Whiting – billwhiting01@yahoo.com

Live From the Royal Albert Hall captures Utica, New York native Joe Bonamassa at a May 4, 2009 concert from the legendary London venue on a two disc video set. Opening the film with a historical narrative, the viewer learns that Bonamassa was given his first guitar by his father at the age of four. By the time he reached seven, he was playing Hendrix with ease. At twelve years old, Joe Bonamassa opened for B.B. King. His dream was always to play the Royal Albert Hall, and tickets for the performance sold out in less than a week. Walking on stage to the strains of “Django,” Bonamassa’s visual presence is defined by his mastery of blues rock lead soloing, and a serious, business like appearance, replete with obligatory dark sunglasses. Touring behind the 2009 album, The Ballad Of John Henry, Bonamassa engages the Albert Hall audience with the title track, leaning heavily on the talents of bass player Carmine Rojas and drummers Bogie Bowles and Anton Fig. Concentrating on the soulful gem, “So Many Roads,” Bonamassa offers up a menacing blast of fiery feedback before succumbing to the ballad’s tender ending. One of the double disc’s highlights is the appearance of Eric Clapton, and the two guitarists bond on a rousing version of “Further On Up the Road.” BBC Radio’s Paul Jones accompanies Bonamassa on harmonica during a stinging take on the Sonny Boy Williamson classic, “Your Funeral, My Trial.” Teasing Jeff Beck, Warren Haynes and Jimmy Page, Bonamassa strikes up bold string bending improvisations during ZZ Top’s “Just Got Paid.” After a standing ovation, Joe Bonamassa entertains the Royal Albert Hall patrons one last time with the stirring movements of his signature closer, “Asking Around For You.” Produced by Kevin Shirley and directed by Scot McFayden and Sam Dunn, Joe Bonamassa Live From the Royal Albert Hall captures the artist in full maturity, assisted by the music legends he has looked up to his entire life.

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DVD Review – Flogging Molly, Live at The Greek Theatre (2010)

flogging mollyWritten by Bill Whiting – billwhiting01@yahoo.com

Recorded on September 12, 2009, Flogging Molly Live at the Greek Theatre captures all of the spirit and energy of an evening with the Los Angeles folk punk band. Part of a three disc CD/DVD combo, live at the Greek Theatre also harnesses the runaway train experience of Flogging Molly’s ninety minute set to provide an intimate glimpse of the musicians within the group. Front man and Dublin native Dave King serenades the L.A. faithful while dancing through an uproarious “Every Dog Has it’s Day.” Fiddler Bridget Regan stands off to the side of King, yet her presence is felt inside the sound mix on “Swagger” and “You Won’t Make a Fool Out of Me.” The rhythm section of drummer George Schwindt and bassist Nathen Maxwell pound aggressively on the proto punk workouts, “Requiem For a Dying Song” and “Drunken Lullabies.” Matthew Hensley’s accordion fills paint the outer edges of Flogging Molly’s sonic explorations on “The Son Never Shines (On Closed Doors)” and “Float.”Banjo and mandolin expert Robert Schmidt accompanies King onstage during “Man With No Country” and “Us of Lesser Gods.” And, lead guitarist Dennis Casey fleshes out the ensemble’s raucous celtic anthems with searing licks on “(No More) Paddy’s Lament” and “Salty Dog.” Packed full of extras, including some of their classic videos “What’s Left of the Flag” and “Punch Drunk Grinning Soul,” Live at the Greek Theatre is a culmination of two years of hard touring that Flogging Molly embarked upon to support the 2008 release, Float. It is a celebratory love affair with the viewer that rewards time after time. Produced by Johnny Bouchard and Ginny Song and edited and directed by Kevin J. Custer, Flogging Molly Live at the Greek Theatre is the next best thing to being at the fabled Los Angeles, California shed with the city’s favorite Irish punk upstarts.

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DVD Review – Soul Power – Concert Documentary by Jeffrey Levy-Hinte

Written by Bill Whiting – billwhiting01@yahoo.com

Jeffrey Levy- Hinte’s documentary of the concerts surrounding the Muhammed Ali- George Foreman heavyweight title match in Zaire circa 1974 comes vibrantly to life on the Soul Power DVD. The concerts were organized by musician Hugh Masekela and Stewart Levine, coordinated by Alan Pariser, and promoted by Levine and Lloyd Price. The lineup included Celia Cruz, Big Black, Miriam Makeba, The Crusaders, The Spinners, Bill Withers, B.B. King, and James Brown. Brown’s “Soul Power” chant lures the viewer into the proceedings as Paul Goldsmith, Kevin Keating, Albert Maysles, and Roderick Young’s stunning cinematography offers up a colorful view of the African landscape. David Smith’s sharp editing style adds heat and tension between the interviews with Ali, the preparations of the organizers, and the performer’s arrival at the Zaire concert site. Celebrities flock to the Ali- Foreman fight, and George Plimpton and Stokely Carmichael become the most visible on camera. The heart of the film resides inside the dramatic stage appearances of The Spinners as they dig deep on their chart topper, “One of a Kind (Love Affair),” and the steamy folk blues from Bill Withers on “Hope She’ll Be Happier.” Miriam Makeba’s “The Click Song” offers up an enchanting diversion, and The Crusaders’ “Put It Where You Want It” amuses the African patrons as they clap along vigorously. Bill McManus’ concert lighting shines brightly on B.B. King while he offers up a slow, scintillating blues stretch on “Thrill is Gone.” The Godfather of Soul, James Brown takes over the latter half of the concert, pumping adrenaline and emotion into the classics, “Payback” and “Cold Sweat.” The film’s final credits roll as Brown’s band and entourage hit a peak with the anthem, “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud).” Produced by David Sonenberg and Leon Gast, and directed with acute attention to detail by Jeffrey Levy- Hinte, Soul Power is a grooving and entertaining time warp back to 1974, when rhythm and blues music was a force to be reckoned with. Read more

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