Top positive review
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An excellent film of an incredible day of music
on November 9, 2010
Crossroads 2010 is around four and a half hours of pure great guitar playing, filmed nearly perfectly, with fantastic sound. This is an amazing concert film.
I was at Crossroads 2010; the really great parts of the concert are here on this DVD. The really low points were gratefully left off, namely Citizen Cope and Johnny Winter (Winter was virtually carried on stage, and was so far out of tune and rhythm, Derek Trucks had to rescue him). November 9, 2010 is the release date of this DVD, any reviews prior to that date are simply conjecture on what may or may not be on this DVD, and are likely about the theatrical release of this film. I would also say that the Best Buy bonus disc is not worth chasing after. Another reviewer mentioned the songs included those were all my least favorite performances of the day, and mostly belonged on the cutting room floor anyway. Behind the scenes footage, during the standard four and a half hours there is just enough behind the scenes shown. The talking head pieces are more than enough for my taste. I'm not interested in more.
There are thirty performances on this two disc DVD. Every guitarist is famous in one circle or another; these are big names in the industry. Yes, Eric and BB are the best known. The sound choice on the DVD is simple - straight stereo for the purist or DTS surround. Both sound great. The sound mix was done to perfection. They chose to package this DVD in the old DVD-Audio cases, slightly larger than a CD case, and with a snap shut mechanism to open.
This is concert coverage at its best. Camera movement is kept to a minimum, shots are steady, rarely is focus missed, and there aren't a million short cuts trying to follow the music or tons of cuts back to crazy hippie dancers in the audience. The film tries very hard to let the music speak for itself and focus on the performers. Unfortunately there are a number of interviews or talking head moments in the film. About half are good and informative, the rest are really annoying. Sadly there was some voice over during performances by Sonny Landreth, Bert Jansch, and Earl Klugh. In a way, the editor is saying, folk music, jazz, and instrumental is boring, he needed to spice things up with commentary. The film opens with a hokey drive around Chicago in an old convertible. I would have preferred one more song instead of this lead in.
Every Bill Murray introduction is included. At the concert, Bill was hilarious. On DVD, I'm not sure he is that funny. The finale, which felt like fireworks to me, was cut short. BB King and around twenty guitarists played Sweet Home Chicago - the sound was amazing.
There is a huge difference between sitting one hundred yards away, listening to the PA mix, and the fine intimate clear mix the film captured. Some energy was lost in the mixing, but mostly clarity of the voices was hugely improved.
My highlights for the day - Sonny Landreth, Robert Cray, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Keb' Mo', Jeff Beck (his new bassist is amazing), and BB King. By far the highest energy performance of the day was Buddy Guy. He was lit up that day, and it shines through on the DVD. The lowest of the low, Johnny Winter, Citizen Cope, Jimmie Vaughan (I despised his horning in on Robert Cray's performance when Hubert Sumlin pointedly says Robert is going to do this next song), and ZZ Top (at the concert they phoned in their performance, it was impossible to hear any vocals - in the remix for the DVD that was corrected). And I know this is heresy, but Eric Clapton did not perform very well during his set. He was outstanding when he sat in with other performers. But when it came time to do his set, his voice seemed very tired and that he just wasn't into the performance. I saw Clapton a few years ago and had a similar feeling.
DVD Number one, roughly the first half of the concert, opens with Sonny Landreth demonstrating that he is an incredible guitarist. There are so many close ups of him working the strings and frets, there is a major guitar lesson in there. The Robert Randolph & Family Band play some great slide guitar - Joe Bonamassa steps in for one song. Robert Cray with Hubert Sumlin and the awful Jimmie Vaughan (The Famous Thunderbirds and Stevie Ray's brother) perform two songs. ZZ Top follows up with two songs each - on disc these are nice, in the concert they were terrible. Doyle Bramhall II is involved in the next four songs. Sheryl Crow leads a bunch of artists for two songs - the saving grace is Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. Bert Jansch is apparently a fantastically popular folk singer in Great Britain. He sat in a chair center stage with his acoustic guitar. His playing is impressive, but he was a significant buzz kill at the concert. One of his songs is represented here. Stefan Grossman and Keb' Mo' are spectacular doing some very quite simple blues. Keb' Mo' is an artist to listen to, he is amazing. Then there are two songs by the most confusing performer at this concert, Vince Gill. Fortunately, he was backed by some amazing guitarists. The talking head moments with Vince are mostly about how he isn't sure he belongs at this concert. Yes Country music arrives at a guitar concert. On the DVD the two songs are not bad. Earl Klugh turns in two amazing classical guitar jazz pieces. Klugh is a master on the guitar. Like Gill and Jansch, his music didn't blend well with the rest of the show. And finally, the most controversial artist of the day, closes out disc one with two songs. I hate John Mayer as much as the next person; he is a slime bucket extraordinaire. I've always hated the grimaces he makes on stage, mostly can't stand to watch him, and can't figure out why BB King even bothers with this nut. But, if I close my eyes and forget that this performance is John Mayer, he does an amazing job at this concert.
Disc two is the real gem in this DVD set. Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi are incredible. I love Susan's voice and her guitar playing. She carries the blues in a totally different fashion from all other female blues players. She's not the belt it out Koko Taylor type, but the subtle clean delivery. Thankfully the Trucks family was well represented on disc two. Warren Haynes does some great guitar playing and vocals. Los Lobos guys show up. The first five songs are just some great collaborative playing by great musicians. As the corner is turned to the last part of the disc, Bill Murray does his best introduction of the day. He essentially says, they got rid of the lousy bands, they're all in the bus and leaving, now it's time for only the good stuff. Well heck yes!!! Buddy Guy comes out swinging for two songs. I love the moment when Guy breaks a string (slow motion is so great on a DVD), Ronnie Wood tries to give him his guitar, Guy keeps singing and playing, and finally he's presented with his signature white and black polka dot guitar. Instantly he was off playing. I yelled Buddy Guy at the concert until I couldn't speak anymore. Today, I yelled it in my living room. Buddy Guy! Then Jeff Beck plays two amazing songs. His new group is fantastic. His new bass player isn't nearly as cute as his previous one. I'll take strong great bass player any day over a perky young Australian player.
Eric Clapton performs on the next seven songs. The Citizen Cope collaboration was the worst track of the entire two disc set - Hands of the Saints was pure listening pain for me. Dear Mr. Fantasy with Steve Winwood was so remarkable to me. Other artists tried some Jimi Hendrix songs (thankfully those massacres were left off the DVD), Winwood and Clapton did a decent job on Voodoo Chile.
By far the absolute best performance of the day was BB King sitting down with Lucille (oh the close ups of him playing are spectacular), Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, and Jimmie Vaughan to play The Thrill is Gone. Roughly fifteen minutes long, the song ends with all the guitarists still in the house playing along. It was a magic moment. Granted the director had to decide when to stop. However, in the concert BB goes on to tell a good ten minute story about women, and then the entire group of thirty or so musicians, did a twenty minute Sweet Home Chicago. I honestly felt like they had lit off fireworks it was that amazing.
Given the difficult choices of the music to include in a very long concert, I think the director did a very fine job capturing the feeling of the day. This is by far much better than the previous Crossroads DVD. For over four hours today, I relived that incredibly hot day in Chicago. This was my fourteen year old son's first rock concert ever. How many people can say, the first concert they ever saw live was Crossroads and have a fantastic DVD to remember it by? This is a special disc for many reasons.