America-Live at the Sydney Opera House (2004)

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Released 9-Sep-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer
Interviews-Cast
Gallery-Photo
Discography
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 97:02
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (79:16) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Peter Ots
Studio
Distributor
Via Vision
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Gerry Beckley
Dewey Bunnell
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Gerry Beckley
Dewey Bunnell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    There can not be too many people who are not familiar with at least one song from the band America. A Horse With No Name was the band's initial breakthrough song in 1972 riding high in the charts around the world and even attracting some controversy when many people thought it was actually a Neil Young release. It has received almost constant FM radio airplay ever since. From that major hit the threesome, consisting of Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell, and Dan Peek, released several albums during the 1970s that included a string of top ten hits such as Sister Golden Hair and Ventura Highway. The blend of easy-listening harmonies melded with their rock and folk style music captured the imagination of many in the early to mid 1970s.

    Peek left the band in 1977, with Bunnell and Beckley continuing on, though never quite capturing the success of the early years. Songs such as You Can Do Magic released in 1982 proved they still had it, but in the last two decades the band has pretty much enjoyed touring success based on the hits they scored in the 1970s and the legions of fans they garnered at the time.

    America Live at the Sydney Opera House was filmed during the band's January 2004 tour of this country. Bunnell and Beckley are obviously the front men of the outfit, and on the night they were supported by Michael Woods on lead guitar, Richard Campbell on bass and long-serving drummer Willie Leacox. The group played two shows at the Opera House as part of their Australian tour, with both shows sold out. There is therefore a large and appreciative crowd in attendance with most leaning towards the baby boomer age group.

    Twenty five songs make the 97 minute show, with the band hitting all the right spots to keep the crowd happy. These include the obvious tracks such as Ventura Highway, Sister Golden Hair, Horse With No Name, Sandman, Everyone I Meet Is From California and You Can Do Magic.

   Bunnell and Beckley certainly know their stuff and while this produces a slick and incredibly well-rounded performance that will instantly please, I couldn't help but feeling it was just a little too sanitised and almost came across as a performance delivered by rote. This by-the-numbers feel didn't pervade every song. Sandman, Sister Golden Hair, and A Horse With No Name are excellent rocking numbers that will have you tapping your foot. But I just felt the earlier numbers such as Riverside, Ventura Highway and To Each His Own were played just like they had been played a thousand times before.

    Overall a good concert, but not a great one. The DVD presentation on the other hand is first class with superb audio and video, and a magnificent interview extra that ranks alongside the best ever seen on a concert disc.

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Track Listing

1. Riverside
2. Ventura Highway
3. You Can Do Magic
4. Don't Cross The River
5. Daisy Jane
6. To Each His Own
7. Company
8. Three Roses
9. I Need You
10. I Need You (Beatles)
11. Baby, It's Up To You
12. Wheels Are Turning
13. Tin Man
14. The Border
15. Woman Tonight
16. Only In Your Heart
17. California Dreamin'
18. Lonely People
19. Hangover
20. Never Be Lonely
21. Sandman
22. Sister Golden Hair
23. All My Life
24. Everyone I Meet Is From California
25. A Horse With No Name

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a lovely looking widescreen concert, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and complete with 16x9 enhancement.

    Being a relatively new recording, this is an almost flawless transfer, which aside from a tiny little bit aliasing is virtually pristine. It is sharp and detailed, with no edge enhancement at all. Easy to watch and easy to review.

    The colours are fairly conservative with no real over-the-top concert style lighting in use. As a result there are no problems with bleeding or oversaturation

    There are no compression artefacts or any other artefacts other than some aliasing on a couple of the guitar strings. These are really nothing to get overly excited about.

    Sadly there are no subtitles on this disc, which is a shame.

    This a dual-layered disc with RSDL formatting. The layer change occurs at 79:16.



Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is a choice of three audio soundtracks on this disc, being Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks encoded at bitrates of 448 and 224 Kb/s respectively, and a 768 Kb/s bitrate dts 5.1 soundtrack.

    I listened to both 5.1 tracks and briefly sampled the Dolby Digital 2.0 track. The surround soundtracks are very similar, exhibiting clean and rich separation of instruments and vocals. They are equally powerful with no audible problems. I would lean slightly in favour of the dts soundtrack for its delivery of a slightly fuller and more powerful sound, though both soundtracks are excellent whichever one you choose.

    Vocals are very prominent in the overall sound mix and there are no audio sync problems.

    There is some surround use during every song. Mostly it is audience fill-in between songs, but there is some instrument presence during each song.

    The subwoofer receives restrained use throughout the show.



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

Dolby Digital Trailer

    Canyon

dts Trailer

    Piano

Interviews-Cast

    This is easily the best interview extra I have ever seen on a music/concert disc. Running for a staggering 59:07, this is a simple yet completely in-depth interview with band members Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley by the legendary Australian rock historian Glenn A. Baker. Baker knows his stuff and here he quizzes the duo about almost every aspect of their career, how they started, their influences, their time with Beatles producer George Martin, and what life is like on the road. Fans will devour this with gusto. For anyone who wanted to know anything about America - this is the place to start and finish.

Gallery-Photo

    Twelve photos of the two remaining original members of America taken from their entire 30 plus year career. It is a shame there are only 12 as they provide quite a good snapshot of the history of the group.

Discography

    Several screens showing the many albums the group has released over the years.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    From what information I can find, this DVD has yet to be released in Region 1. Indications are that it will happen sometime soon so as soon as I am aware of the specifications I'll update this section accordingly.

Summary

    America in Concert - Live At The Sydney Opera House is a great show from a band that has produced some memorable songs over the last 30 years. While I thought the performance was a little too by-the-numbers at times, the rendition of Sister Golden Hair and Horse With No Name more than made up for it.

    The video and audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are limited in number, but the inclusion of the best interview extra I have ever seen sees me award four stars for the bonus material.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Where's the track list? - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
America at the Gong. - Moff Martin (read my bio)