on November 26, 2004
WOW ! Shadows' fans everywhere, rejoice ! Here is the fabulous DVD of their final tour that not only meets, but exceeds all expectations. This is a special treat for us fans in Canada and the USA, where in the US at least, this great group has never been on the radar screen.
Before you read on--a confession. Ever since I heard their first hit "Apache" in 1960, I have been a diehard fan--so this review is very, very biased ! I considered them then--as I do now--to be the greatest pop/rock instrumental band in the world.
The Shads--as their legions of fans call them--had not played together in several years. Fortunately, due to constant fan support all over the globe, they decided to get back together for this final tour. They became stars, first as Cliff Richard's back-up group, then in their own right, about 45 years ago, when they were scarcely more than teenagers--do the math--they aren't kids anymore. However, like a fine wine, the Shads have actually improved with age--they never sounded better or played better than in this marvellous concert, recorded in Cardiff, Wales, earlier this year.
Of course, the Shads are--Hank Marvin, lead guitar--Bruce Welch, rhythm guitar--Brian Bennett, drums. They are accompanied on this tour by two other fine musicians--Mark Griffiths, bass and Cliff Hall, keyboards. You really get your "moneys worth" with this concert--it clocks in at around three hours and includes 39 numbers from their long career.
There is a lot of variety here--exciting, fast-paced tunes like The Savage", "Geronimo", "Shazam", "Shadoogie", "Gonzales" and "FBI"--lovely melodic numbers like "Atlantis", "Theme for Young Lovers","Theme from the Deer Hunter" and the timeless "Wonderful Land". Hank and Bruce have always been good vocalists too, and two of their big vocal hits are included, " Don't Make My Baby Blue" and "Let Me Be the One". They also pay tribute to their old "boss", Sir Cliff, with several of his hits which the Shads wrote--"The Day I Met Marie", "Gee Whiz It's You", "Summer Holiday" and "Bachelor Boy".
I was also impressed with their overall performance--they really seemed to be having as much fun as the audience. Brian Bennett gets several chances to show that he can play drums with the best of them--his showcase "Little B" is a clinic for aspiring drummers everywhere. Bruce Welch shows us, as he has for years, that there is more to rhythm guitar than just strumming--he's no slouch as a "picker" either--listen to his duet with Hank on the jazzy "Nivram". As for Hank Marvin--beautiful lead guitar work--the man who gives the Shads their unique sound--the man who "launched a thousand guitar players" ( probably more ! )--my favourite guitarist, sounding better than ever.
I found the technical quality of the DVD to be excellent--the picture sharp and clear--for sound, all important for this group, I picked the DTS option--really outstanding. I felt like I had a front row seat !
The DVD also includes a very relaxed and informative interview with Hank and Bruce, remembering their childhood in Newcastle
(no wonder Mark Knopfler is a fan !), and then moving to London to find fame and fortune. Brian joins them about half way through the interview, and recalls how he joined the group. There are also scenes of their post-tour party in London, with people like Brian May, Queen's great guitarist, paying tribute to the Shads, and Hank in particular. Also at the party--Sir Cliff himself, sounding quite wistful that he may never get a chance to perform with his old mates again. C'mon, Cliff--they said "last tour" not last concert--if anyone can talk them into something really special, say for a worthy charity, gee whiz it's you !
I know that five stars is the "max" under this system, but--as I'm sure you can tell--this disc is worth a lot more to me than that--much more. For Shads fans, this DVD is a wonderful testament to the music and talent of Hank, Bruce and Brian. For people who were never exposed to "Shadowmania", why not see what you have been missing ? ! My highest recommendation.
A footnote dated 13 July 2010--Shadows' fans should be aware that this marvellous concert has now been released on a Blu-ray disc. Since the original DVD, reviewed above, was pretty special to begin with, I wondered what I could expect from the Blu-ray disc. It is--in a word--spectacular. Of course, the visual quality is enhanced, but the sound is tremendous. Close your eyes and you'll think that Hank is playing in your living room ! Of course, you might need a large living room ! Anyway, you get the drift. In addition to all the great numbers mentioned in my review, there is another that I would like to mention--the beautiful "Mountains of the Moon" which opens the second half of the concert--quite mesmerizing. So, if you dig the Shads and have invested in a Blu-ray player, " Let me be the one" to say that you are in for quite a treat !