Stevie Wonder: Live at Last
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Stevie Wonder performs live at London's O2 Arena in October 2008 as part of his 'Wonder Summer Nights' European tour. Songs include classics from all stages of his career including 'My Cherie Amour', 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)', 'Superstition', 'Higher Ground', 'Living for the City' and 'You Are the Sunshine of My Life'. Stevie's daughter, Aisha Morris, joins him on the stage as a backing singer.
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I love Stevie's bravery and creative genius in moving beyond the Motown formula for great R&B, his mastery of the harmonica, the synthesizer, the piano, his acknowledgement of the oppression of people of color, his advocacy for so many important causes, his magnificent song-writing, his stellar performance of his music, his uncommon spirituality and humility. Inspired by Stevie, I named my first-born child Aisha, in 1980.
What's so wonderful about this Blu-ray is that it successfully captures the beauty of Stevie's music and the breadth of his talent. His band and background singers, including his daughter, are also incredible. But the most moving feature of this music video is the audience's outpouring of love for Stevie and his music. The enormous London concert hall is packed with thousands and thousands of adoring Stevie Wonder fans. The vast majority are white Europeans who appear to be the age of my daughter and Stevie's daughter. Stevie's music, Stevie's humanity transcend national origin, ethnicity, skin color and age. These fans know that they've experienced something wonderful that they will pass down like a priceless heirloom to their children and their children's children.
Anyway here's the "skinny" on this Blu-Ray:
1. The concert I think was fabulous. Stevie's been around so many decades that he can sing song after song of big hits. As a result many in the audience know the lyrics and "sing along". Stevie at times significantly encourages this: even letting the crowd sing the first stanza to a couple songs at least. I read the other reviewers' comments. I don't understand the criticism of hearing the crowd sing along. I mean, to my way of thinking, if you want pristine "sound" sans crowd then don't buy a "live album". Buy the CD or download the music. If I want to go to, see, a CONCERT, however, I want it to be a concert experience (sans, of course, the part about not seeing the stage due to everyone standing or arena view issues)! This means, I WANT to hear the crowd sing along at times. I want to hear the gaffs, coughs, the cheers, the applause! I'd give this concert an A.
2. The video quality is excellent, but not 1080p quality. It says 1080i, but to my way of thinking, more like 720. It even has a "film/grainy" look at times. Not bad, but this isn't anything like the quality of Planet Earth or Avatar. I'd give the video quality a C+, for Blu-Ray. If it were DVD, I'd rate it B+ or A-.
3. The audio quality is in three choices: the Default seems to be LPCM 2.0, which is VERY GOOD. The other choices are Dolby 5.1 (not as good) and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. I've listened to all three. The LPCM manages to quieten the crowd and external noises quite a bit. This emphasizes Stevie and Band a bit at the expense of crowd. However the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 blows me away. I mean, I could really think I was "there". I hear things, including in the music, I just can't hear otherwise. You can "really" hear the crowd. I give this AUDIO an A.
Conclusion: For ME, I think this Blu-Ray disc with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 turned on is the BEST true to life concert experience I've yet had in my home. But I love concerts, loud music, music of all kinds, and I could easily see that many might think the somewhat subdued LPCM 2.0 default setting is better for them. With an A for Concert, C+ for Video, A for Audio, overall it's an A-.
Only one small gripe: The A/V team failed to do this Blu-ray full justice. To my knowledge this is Stevie's only HD production. As such, I expected them to do a better job with the A/V editing. The background vocals were only marginally mixed into the DTS audio track, but fortunately Stevie is so amazing that he carried the day. The video and camera work was also marginal. With a better job on the production end, this could have been classic.
That said, Stevie was AWESOME. If you are a fan, you will most definitely want this Blu-ray.