Vandross, Luther-Live at Wembley (1989) (NTSC)
Discography-photos of albums
|Year Of Production||1989|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||John Smith|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I suspect that if you are reading this review, you know who Luther Vandross is, and what he sounds like. I hope so, because I can't describe his music very well. I should say up front that I had not heard him before reviewing this disc, and I'm not a big fan afterwards - my tastes and his music just don't overlap. There's nothing wrong with it; I just like other stuff. There, that's that bit out of the way - now on with the review.
This is a concert - the DVD being entitled Luther Vandross: Live at Wembley gave that away. It contains material recorded during his ten shows at the Wembley Arena on his 1988/89 tour. If you look at the back cover, you'll seen 15 tracks listed, but you should note that track 15 is called Closing Credits - this is not a song... And, to be strictly accurate, track 7 is not a medley of songs, but rather a few musical phrases as he introduces his background singers, while track 5 is band introductions, and track 10 is Hello to Audience. So really there are 11 tracks on this disc.
I suspect that this concert was captured on video, rather than film. You can get a brief glimpse of one of the cameras during the performance and it looks like a TV camera, rather than a film camera. Even so, we get quite a good picture.
For the first 12 tracks, Luther Vandross and his three backing singers (more like backing dancers, really, although they do sing) are wearing black outfits with silver highlights. The ladies are in full-length black dresses with silver embroidery across the bodice and down the sides of the skirt; the male backing singer is wearing a black suit with a toreador-style jacket, white shirt, and silver embroidery on the shoulders and down the trousers, and Luther Vandross is in a black dinner suit, with white shirt and bow tie, the jacket having extensive silver embroidery on the shoulders and sleeves. I've described this in detail because I had a long time to study it. The crowd is in darkness, the band is in a sort of orchestra pit, and Luther and his backing singers are up on a round stage - they are pretty much all we get to see, and they are virtually in black and white - skin tones are about the only hint we get that this is a colour picture.
In track 13, however, we get a change of outfits - the ladies are in short white dresses, the male backing singer is in a white suit with loose trousers and short jacket, and Luther changes jackets for a white one, but all of this white is overlaid with orange/gold embroidery - real colour!
This performance must have been hard work - this is not a conventional concert, with the performers facing the audience. The stage is round, and the audience is on all sides. The four performers on stage try very hard to address all of the audience. Some times, they are each facing a different quarter of the audience; other times, they are all in motion, moving around the edge of the stage to address each part of the audience in turn.
We get to see a little of the crowd - there are numerous camera flashes going off, and sometimes if you freeze the image you get a single frame that is illuminated by the flash. The first time that I saw this I thought it was a film or video artefact, so I backed up and looked at it frame-by-frame (gotta love that perfect frame-by-frame image we get from DVD!). In fact, even though I was looking hard, I saw no film or video artefacts at all - quite impressive for a concert video that's over 11 years old. That reminds me, onward to the discussion of the transfer - tally-ho!
|1. Never Too Much|
2. Any Love
3. Come Back
4. Love Won't Let Me Wait
5. Band Intros / Song Intros
6. Give Me The Reason
7. Singers Intro Medley
|9. For You To Love|
10. Hello To Audience
12. A House Is Not A Home
13. She Won't Talk To Me
14. Stop To Love
15. Closing Credits
This concert was recorded in 1989. It could have been last year - there's no sign of any degradation. OK, if it had been recorded last year, then maybe the recording might have been widescreen.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, in NTSC. For a concert video that was intended for a VHS market, that is completely understandable. The framing of the shots make it fairly clear that this was the intended ratio.
The image is fairly sharp, especially in close-ups - you can trace every bead of sweat down Luther's face. Long shots are a bit softer, but not hugely so. There is some shadow detail on the performers (under their chins, for example), but we can't see backgrounds - that's intentional, because this was a performance "in the round" - the only back-drop is the audience, who are in darkness (relieved only by camera flashes). There's lots of black here, and there's no low-level noise to be seen - quite impressive.
Colour is hard to judge. For the majority of the concert, the singers' faces are all we have to judge colour, pretty much everything else is black, white, or silver. For the final two songs we get some orange and gold. Oh, and a bit of coloured lighting, but surprisingly little for a concert. What colour we do get looks fine.
There are almost no artefacts at all. I didn't notice any significant aliasing. There are no MPEG or film artefacts, other than a little bit of loss of resolution in a few back-lit shots. There are occasional optical artefacts when a light is in view.
The only subtitles are in English. I flicked them on every so often, and they look very accurate, reproducing almost every word Luther sings (a few "yeah"s are omitted), plus every word of his intros.
The disc is single-sided, single layer (understandable, with the 81 minute run-time) - no layer change to worry about.
There are two soundtracks on this disc, both English. One is Dolby Digital 5.1, while the other is Linear PCM. I listened to the 5.1, but sampled the PCM regularly. Normally I'd expect the Linear PCM track to demonstrate superior fidelity, but that is definitely not the case here. The PCM track sounded thin, even a bit gutless (that's a technical term). The 5.1 had superior bass, and used the surrounds well to distribute the band and crowd ambience - nicely engineered.
Vocals are clear, rising well over the music. Pretty much every word could be understood.
The music is well laid out across the channels of the 5.1 soundtrack. As our viewpoint changed, so too did the sound. Considering this was probably not recorded for 5.1 in the first place, I am quite impressed with the effort. The surrounds give real depth to the sound. The subwoofer is integrated seamlessly, providing excellent low bass support.
|Surround Channel Use|
There is very little in the way of extras on this disc.
The menu is static and silent.
A few pages, all in caps, of biography for Luther Vandross.
This is presented graphically, with photos of four albums on each page - Luther Vandross has released quite a few albums.
The Region 1 and Region 4 discs seem to have exactly the same features.
If you like Luther Vandross' music, then this disc may make you happy. You will need to have a system that can display NTSC, though.
The video is very good for a 1989 concert.
The audio is well mastered, especially the 5.1 track.
The extras are basic.
|DVD||Arcam DV88, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|