Suzanne Vega-Live at Montreux 2004 (2005)

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Released 5-Jun-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 90
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Rajon Vision
Starring Suzanne Vega
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Suzanne Vega


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/20 2.0 mono (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown 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

    Suzanne Vega has been a stalwart of the folk/pop scene for over 20 years. Despite the fact that she hit her highest commercial success with her first and second albums, Suzanne Vega and Solitude Standing, in 1985 and 1987 she has continued to release albums of quality and distinction, albeit at a measured pace.

    In 2004 she performed at the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland for the second time. This concert is her entire performance from that night (approximately 77 minutes) and the DVD also includes 3 songs from her first appearance at Montreux in 2000.

    The years have been fairly kind to Vega. Her voice is slightly lower in register than it was at her height but her delivery is impeccable. Her skill as a singer-songwriter is unquestioned with poetry and thought firmly entrenched in the lyrics. Each of her songs is like a short story often told in an observant though somewhat distanced manner. Though she may be the wronged woman at the centre of the crisis she is also the note taker on the sidelines recording each measured step towards break-up. Towards the end of the show she acknowledges her idiom saying: "This song has a happy ending, so obviously I did not write it".

    The concert is a showcase of her career and includes songs from almost every one of her six albums. Fans of Days of Open Hand are the only ones likely to be dismayed at the omission of any songs from that release in the main concert. It is pleasing that she does not choose to overload the concert with songs from her most recent release, Songs in Red and Grey, at the expense of some old classics. Fans of that set, recorded in the shadow of her break-up from producer Mitchell Froom, may wish that some of the more personal songs from that album were included. Aside from the originals she performs the old Who number Behind Blue Eyes (recently a hit for Limp Bizkit) and also, as a concession to the jazz festival performs Have You Met (Sir) Jones? recently done for the masculine voice by Robbie Williams.

    Suzanne admits at the outset that she does not speak French which means that her interaction with the audience is fairly limited. She does, however, get some audience participation going in the ubiquitous Tom's Diner which she announces as having just had its 30th remix. Many will know the song better through the DNA remix of a few years back although it is interesting to know that Suzanne is often called the mother of the MP3 as Tom's Diner was the song used to test the format.

    As a performer Suzanne is vocally expressive which is to say that she doesn't move around a lot. She performs a few songs without her trademark acoustic guitar and seems a bit lost without it. Her band is really sharp including some nifty bass work by long-time collaborator Mike Viceglia during a heartfelt performance of Left of Center.

    Fans of Suzanne Vega will get a real buzz out of this concert which will bring back fond memories of her shows. The casual music fan may not be so enthused but as concert films go it is an engaging and often moving performance from a singer-songwriter who is still very much on top of her game if not the charts.

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Track Listing

1. 99.9F
2. Marlene On The Wall
3. Caramel
4. When Heroes Go Down
5. Gypsy
6. (I'll Never Be Your) Maggie May
7. Penitent
8. Solitaire
9. Left Of Center
10. The Queen And The Soldier
11. Behind Blue Eyes
12. Solitude Standing
13. Blood Makes Noise
14. In Liverpool
15. Luka
16. Tom's Diner
17. Calypso
18. Have You Met Miss Jones
19. * Small Blue Thing
20. * Room Off The Street
21. * Knight Moves

Transfer Quality

Video

    This concert comes to DVD in a 1.78:1 transfer, which would seem to represent the original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The film crew at the Montreux Jazz Festival are old hands when it comes to filming concerts and it shows in the wonderful presentation of this DVD.

    I was hard pressed to find any faults with this transfer. Problems such as macro-blocking and comet trails are nowhere to be seen. There was no aliasing to be seen on the guitar strings and only a slight shimmer around the top of the microphone which I believe was just a focus issue with the lit backdrop.

    The colours are nice and the image is crisp and clean.

    All in all a superbly transferred concert.

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

Audio

    Even more important to the success of a concert film than the visual transfer is the quality of the audio. Suzanne Vega Live At Montreaux comes with three soundtracks; Linear PCM 48/20 2.0 mono (1536Kb/s), Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and DTS 5.1 (768Kb/s).

    At the outset I should point out that the success of any Suzanne Vega concert is the clarity rather than the punch of the sound. Two elements dominate - her emotive guitar work and poetic lyrics.

    I found all the soundtracks to be fairly conservative and mellow. The DTS soundtrack is preferable to the other two for the overall quality. I sampled all three generally and compared them closely during Solitude Standing . The standard 5.1 soundtrack seemed very quiet and the PCM was louder but understandably lacked in overall sound quality.

    I found the DTS soundtrack to be superb in capturing all the subtlety in Suzanne Vega's voice, particularly in the quietest moments.

    I was able to make sense of the lyric in the songs with which I was not familiar and thereby appreciated the song fully.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    During the menu screen the hit Marlene's On the Wall is partially played.

Extra Songs

    The DVD contains three extra songs recorded at the first Montreux performance by Vega in 2000. In these she is accompanied by Viceglia only. The visual quality is not as good as the main concert (it is a 4:3 transfer) but it does give a chance to hear two great songs, Knight Moves and Small Blue Thing, that were omitted from the main show.

R4 vs R1

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

    It appears that the Region 1 and 2 versions are identical as far as the main concert goes but the extra songs are not included in the release.

Summary

    Suzanne Vega Live at Montreux is a worthy addition to any collection of her works. Far from resting on her laurels she continues to write and perform thoughtful pop/folk songs. Given the rarity of her tours to Australia (the last time I saw her in the West was 1993!) a concert DVD is the only way to capture the live experience. A quality release for fans of this gifted artist.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo DV-SP300, using Component output
DisplayNEC PlasmaSync 42" MP4 1024 x 768. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJBL Simply Cinema SCS178 5.1

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