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Live in Concert: 50th Anniversary
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Blu-Ray. Live release from the American Pop legends containing 21 classic Beach Boys hits performed live in Phoenix AZ on the bands 2012 - 50th anniversary worldwide tour. This live performance features the surviving members of the band (Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks and Bruce Johnston) aided by additional musicians who have played with various members of the band for years.
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1. You won't see the touching tributes to the late Carl and Dennis Wilson in which the band backs up video footage of each deceased member singing "God Only Knows" and "Forever" respectively.
2. You won't see a performance of "Add Some Music to Your Day" in which all five core members of the group sing around Brian's piano.
3. You won't see David Marks play the title track from "Pet Sounds" solo.
4. You won't see Brian Wilson sing "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" and "Please Let Me Wonder."
5. You won't hear some of the classic ballads like "Surfer Girl" or "In My Room."
These are the most glaring omissions in my opinion but those aren't the only performances missing from this video. That's not to say this video still isn't enjoyable. There's enough here to love including great performances of "Heroes and Villains," "Sloop John B," "Sail On, Sailor" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice" among other hits plus two songs from the somewhat obscure 1972 Carl and the Passions album which are surprising but welcome inclusions. The band is shown in good form and the video itself is well-shot.
There are no bonus features and the DVD lacks a chapter menu so if you want to hear a specific song, you have to press "Play All" and use the skip button on your remote. This might bug some people.
Overall, this is a fine sampler but should not be seen as the definitive document. The band deserves better and the fans deserve better. Hopefully in the future, we will see another release from the tour that gives these songs the presentation they deserve and a full concert would be nice.
Visually I would rank this 5 stars and absolutely one of the very best Blu-ray concerts that would make a great demo for your display. According to the credits, directed by Joe Thomas, probably of Soundstage fame and overall, the camera moves and cuts are perfect for the pace/beat. Brightly lit, warm vivid colors, deep blacks with no crush, wonderfully broad contrast ratios and perhaps more detail reproduction than the older members of the band may have wanted on their individual facial close-ups. As good as I could have ever hoped for.
On the other side, the 5.1 Dolby HD Lossless soundtrack is another matter. Being around the same age as the original group, I too can't do what I used to 50 years ago so I understand the whole mix was compressed around their vocal limits of 2012. Good surround activity puts you right in the audience as expected from an audio mix from again, Joe Thomas, but there is less "energy" in the overall sound when you look at the number of performers and instruments in support of the original Beach Boys. The "punch" in the total sound just isn't there. LFE doesn't extend very low and while you see the drummers, the proportion of their efforts just isn't evident in the final mix. Just compare the available bass over the end credits with what's on the majority of the tracks and you'll immediately understand my point. Same with the high end...there isn't much almost as if it was all rolled off during the mix which is why most of the concert has almost a muffled tone to it. Kind of like the difference in sound between AM (the norm where the band first achieved airplay) and later FM radio. Mostly ends ups sounding all lower mid-range with limited dynamics most likely to prevent overwhelming the available vocals from the band members.
Is it still a fun watch? Is it a good as we remembered? Is it worth owning? Yes to all, but it could have been so much better with more a aggressive (complete) overall mix which is primarily the cause of my 3 star average overall rating. Compare this title to a couple of my reference concert Blu-rays (Duran Duran's A Diamond in the Mind: Live 2011 [Blu-ray]; Lindsey Buckingham's Songs From the Small Machine - Live in L.A. [Blu-ray), and the shortcoming become obvious as to what's missing similar to Neil Diamond: Hot August Night/NYC - Live from Madison Square Garden [Blu-ray].
And almost adding insult to injury, when was the last time you purchased a concert (or even movie) on Blu-ray and found there is "NO Pop-up Menu." That's right, you can't call up a menu listing of the individual songs whether from the Main Menu screen or when the actual concert is playing. While it lists Mike Love of the Boys as one of the producers of the concert, my guess is that someone else at either David C. Levy Productions or BlastMusic made the decisions for producing the final Blu-rays. Can't imagine adding direct access to the individual songs would have cost that much more to implement when encoding this title.
Beach Boy fans like myslf will still welcome having this remembrance of their 50th Anniversary concert but it could have been as really special as the occasion was with just a little more thought and planning ($$$) spent on the final package. As another reviewer wrote, rather spend a few dollars more and have the whole concert (50 instead of the 21 songs here) than to save a little for a whole lot less which this effort ended up being. Too bad the rights owners didn't realize a reference quality product like this would have been an evergreen title selling over long periods of time more than recovering their small added initial investment.
I did not get to see The Boys on tour, but enjoyed the 21 songs on this DVD. They sound great, although I'm sure there was some "sweetening" done in post-production. Unfortunately, the DVD only runs for a little over an hour, and as other reviewers have pointed out, The Boys did well over 50 songs at their shows, so why they didn't put out a longer DVD is a mystery; perhaps Mike Love was afraid that a longer version would not sell.
Unless a second concert DVD with the other songs is released soon, this is probably all that we are going to get, with egomaniac Mike Love's decision to fire Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, and David Marks after the tour, leaving only Love and Johnston in the band. Not much Love shown from Mike. So enjoy this DVD for what it is, and also buy the companion documentary Doin' It Again, which I received as a Christmas gift, and, in addition to concert excerpts, has some nice interviews with The Boys, including heartfelt reminisces of the late Dennis and Carl Wilson.