John Farnham & Tom Jones-Together in Concert (2005)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
|Year Of Production||2005|
|Running Time||63:20 (Case: 68)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Dennis Murphy|
|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|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.75:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Let me see, John Farnham, didn't he do a farewell tour last year? That can't be him back again can it? Well, yes it can. And Tom Jones, hmm, he was featured on the cover of the weekend magazine in my local rag, The Canberra Times, only a week or so ago (where they noted that he has now reached retirement age but is far from retiring). I must admit to a soft spot for this pair; being Welsh myself Tom is something of a national treasure, and like John I migrated to Australia in my youth.
The two stars had previously appeared together once or twice on local Australian TV shows, and decided to get together for one or two concerts on the east coast. Popular demand led to more concerts, along with an appearance in Perth, and the DVD under consideration here was taped in Melbourne on 19th February 2005. The fact that this review is appearing less than 3 months later is a testament to the immediacy which is possible with modern media, along with a desire by the promoters to capture the moment.
Being something of a minor fan of both stars I was keen to get hold of this disc, and I had two key questions in mind when I did: 'Can these guys still cut it?', and 'Is this disc worth the money?'. The first question often arises late in a singer's career when it can sometimes happen that the mind is willing but the larynx is weak. The second question comes about as a result of the fairly short running time on this disc when compared to a number of recent releases from other major artists.
Well, I will answer the first question rather bluntly. On the evidence here Tom Jones is past his peak, though he still has great charisma and the crowd obviously enjoy what they are seeing on stage. John Farnham sounds in much better voice, and when the two sing together it is easy to look past some of the vocal limitations on display. I must say I would have chosen a different selection of songs, as the rockier tracks come across better than the soulful ballads which put too much strain on failing vocal chords. You might have read in the Sydney and Melbourne press that both stars are in great voice, don't believe it. However, I don't want to overdo this, both stars are class acts, and put on a good show here.
The value for money question is more clear-cut, as a "Highlights of..." package this is a disappointment. It appears that what we have here is the video version of the recently released CD, rather than a good chronicle of the concerts. Less than half of the songs performed on the night are present here. I was very happy to see Tom Jones perform It's Not Unusual, but "Why, Why, Why" no Delilah?. The same goes for John Farnham, I love Playing to Win (one of my favourite LRB songs, great to see some history recognized), but key tracks performed at the concert are missing here. The people who put this package together should take a look at either of Bruce Springsteen's (two-disc set) concert DVDs for an example of what the public deserves (and should expect).
I suspect that this disc will appeal to the converted rather than making any new fans. On listening to Jones my eldest daughter proclaimed "This guy sucks", though she enjoyed the finale when the two stars belt out a great rendition of It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock 'N Roll). The disc starts off slowly but builds momentum as it goes. If you were at the shows, this would be a reasonable memento, for the rest of us this is a decent enough glimpse of the reasons for the popularity of the performers, with the reservations mentioned elsewhere.
|1. Mama Told Me Not To Come|
2. 200 Pounds Of Heavenly Joy
3. What Am I Living For
4. It's Not Unusual
5. Burn For You
6. Man Of The Hour
7. Playing To Win
8. My Yiddishe Momme
|9. You're The Voice|
10. That Driving Beat
11. Hold On I'm Coming
12. Try A Little Tenderness
13. What'd I Say
14. Sweet Soul Music
15. It's A Long Way To The Top...
The video transfer on this DVD is rather disappointing, given how recently it was made. At best it looks like a recently videotaped TV special, nothing like the high definition video on some recent concert discs from other stars.
The aspect ratio is 1.75:1, 16x9 enhanced. This would appear to be the original ratio.
The transfer is rather murky at times, with a soft edge which is rather distracting. Like many concert discs the level of lighting is dependent upon the lights used during the show, but even so the level of shadow detail is poor. Luckily there is no low level noise.
The colours during this concert show up poorly on the disc, a lot of the performers are wearing either black or other dark colours, and they tend to merge into the lighting, which is frequently a dark blue. As a result there is a bit of a flat, 'washed-out' feel to proceedings.
There are no film artefacts of any note in the transfer, though there is frequent minor aliasing and occasional edge enhancement. The aliasing is mostly on the large screens at the back of the stage, a frequent problem with concert films.
There are no subtitles on the disc, once again I will add my plea to include lyrics on music DVDs.
There is no layer change - this is a DVD5 single layer disc, something of a rarity these days.
The audio transfer fares slightly better than the video transfer, but only just - it seems that this was a low budget production all around.
There are three audio tracks on the DVD. The first is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at a bitrate of 448 Kb/s, and this is complemented by a dts track encoded at a bitrate of 768 Kb/s. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track encoded at 224 Kb/s. I listened to the entire show in dts and sampled the other two tracks. I found the Dolby Digital 5.1 track to be adequate, but not as clearly defined as the dts. The stereo track, while adequate, is rather flat and I recommend you listen to one of the surround tracks if your equipment supports it. The dts track is the pick of the bunch and my comments in the rest of this section are based around this option.
The vocals show up well in this transfer, and are in fact the best part of it. John Farnham has better presence through his microphone than Tom Jones (perhaps he has been given home town advantage by the recording engineer?) but both come across well, with good audio sync.
The music lacks a bit of "bite", and is overshadowed by the vocals; then again this may be an intended effect, given the focus is primarily on the headline stars. The song list is, to my ears, depressingly middle of the road at times, but takes off nicely in the more up-tempo numbers.
Surround activity is fair, though a little lacking in the space between the front of the soundstage and the rear. The vocals are placed well at the front, and the backup singers and crowd fill in the rear well, but something is lacking in the intervening space. Occasionally this is used for instrumental sounds (as in the keyboard flourishes in Playing To Win) but this is all too rare. The overall feeling is 'fair, but room for improvement'.
The subwoofer sees some nice bass activity during the songs, and is well balanced with the rest of the soundtrack. It contributes a nice bottom end to the drums, as at 31:25 during The Voice.
|Surround Channel Use|
The extras package on this disc is much like the rest of the presentation, less than it could have been. The backstage footage promised on the back of the box comprises a few minutes of dark and grainy footage at the start of the show, and a few minutes in the middle (at 35:46 just before the encore); as it is included in the show (and in the paltry running time) it is not listed as an extra here. At the very least we could have had interviews with the two stars to pad this out a bit.
The menu is animated with audio and is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.75:1, 16x9 enhanced. From it you can Play the Concert, go to Song Selection, view the Photo Gallery and choose your Audio Options. A smaller option at the bottom of the menu leads to the DVD credits. The Song Selection is presented across 3 screens, it takes some extra navigation which is not necessary in view of the limited number of tracks on offer.
This is a reasonably colourful 12 page glossy, with a rather pretentious background history of the stars by Glenn A. Baker. I like these booklets, so was happy enough with this one.
There are 25 pictures here, of concert venues and on-stage action. OK as far as they go.
Let me see, these are the DVD credits. Move along.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
As this is a local release it appears that the Region 4 version is your only choice at the moment.
While I enjoyed this disc, the whole thing reeks of a rush job, hurried to market to ride the wave of interest the concerts generated. The short running time, lack of extras, and rather ordinary audio and video are just not good enough in today's market (check out what Peter Gabriel or Bruce Springsteen are doing on DVD by comparison). Fans of the stars will probably lap this up, the rest of you may well want to pass this by until it ends up in a bargain bin.
An interesting concert, but why do we only get to see half of it?
The video quality is average, as is the audio.
The Extras are poor. To the producers: this could have been so much more, I wanted to like this a whole lot better, but ended up feeling rather disappointed.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-K350, using Component output|
|Display||SONY VPL-HS10 LCD projector, ABI 280cm 16x9 screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Kenwood. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|