Billy Joel-Live at Yankee Stadium (1990) (NTSC)

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Released 6-Apr-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 85:05
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jon Small
Studio
Distributor

Sony Music
Starring Billy Joel
Case Brackley-Opaque-Lipped
RPI $24.95 Music Billy Joel


Video (NTSC) Audio
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
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, See NOTE in Plot Synopsis

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

Plot Synopsis

  Let me say right from the start that for me to provide an unbiased comment on any of Billy Joel's material is going to be very difficult. Billy Joel is my all-time favourite musical artist, and I have been a HUGE fan for over 20 years. I have all his albums and have seen him perform live on numerous occasions, including the tour that the Yankee Stadium show is from. Billy Joel's music has provided me with moments that are forever etched into my memory for nearly every year since 1977. I'll try to be objective, but it's going to be difficult...
 

    Billy Joel - Live At Yankee Stadium has been amongst my list of highly anticipated DVDs since I first purchased my DVD player. I have almost worn out the decade old VHS version of this concert, so when the chance came to review this title I jumped at it.

    Recorded in June 1990 as part of the 15 month long Storm Front tour (which came to Australia in February 1991), this was the first ever rock concert to be held at the legendary home of the New York Yankees baseball team - Yankee Stadium. Apparently the Yankees were very protective of their stadium and surface and had not allowed anybody to set foot on it unless playing 'ball. Billy asked if he could play there and they agreed! (He must have asked nicely.)

    The band that played with Billy on this tour has pretty much stayed with him since. There are of course the old stalwarts such Liberty DeVito on drums and Mark Rivera on saxophone. Newcomers for this tour included Tommy Byrnes on guitar and Crystal Taliefero on percussion and backing vocal.

    If there is one performer around that knows how to put on a stadium concert, it is Billy Joel. He is true showman in every sense. He feeds off the crowd and gives them everything that they ask for. The last time I saw him was in 1998. I went along with a friend who was not a really big fan of Billy Joel before the show. Afterwards, he was a convert. He was amazed at the energy and sheer enjoyment that Billy displayed in his performance.

    Two things did, however, disappoint me when I first received this disc. Firstly the sticker on the front proudly proclaiming it to be an NTSC disc. Secondly, it's only 85 minutes long. I thought hours of footage could be crammed onto a DVD. How about making the most of it? Maybe the good folk at Sony Music are saving it all up for the special Madison Square Garden Millennium Concert Edition (I can dream, can't I?)? Nonetheless, it was with great anticipation that I slid this disc into my player and cranked up the volume for what would hopefully be a special experience.
 

    The disc opens with a seven minute introductory feature on the lead-up to the concert, comprised of some interview material with Billy Joel, some fans and the general feeling of New York City in the lead-up to what was quite a big event in the summer of 1990.

    NOTE: The end credits feature the complete studio version of And So it Goes, complete with subtitles, so there are really 13 songs on the disc.

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Track Listing

1. Storm Front
2. I Go To Extremes
3. Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
4. The Downeaster 'Alexa'
5. Pressure
6. New York State Of Mind
7. We Didn't Start The Fire
8. Shout
9. That's Not Her Style
10. Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go...
11. A Matter Of Trust
12. Piano Man

Transfer Quality

Video

    Better than I was expecting is how I would summarize the video quality, especially given the last couple of concert DVDs that I have viewed that were NTSC and had similar stage lighting. Not reference quality by any stretch, but not too bad considering.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness level  is excellent thoughout, though I did notice the effects that NTSC can have on the edges of straight lines (particularly Billy's piano), where they can appear slightly jagged. Shadow detail was the biggest surprise. I was expecting some problems here but the transfer handled it magnificently, with nobody disappearing at all in blackness unless it was intended. There was some low level noise scattered throughout, though this was minor. It was most noticeable during the opening track Storm Front.

    Colour levels were muted with little vibrancy and as a result there were none of the oversaturation problems that often occur under stage lighting. This isn't to say that it was a dull presentation, just not overpoweringly bright or intense in colour.

    There were no visible MPEG artefacts and aliasing was never a problem. There were several metal grilles on the floor next to Billy's piano that I would have expected to cause a problem, but they didn't, which was a nice surprise.

    There is only one set of subtitles on this disc; English. I turned these on for several songs and knowing most of the words to Billy's songs by heart, I did not notice any problems. Even when the concert lyrics differ from the studio version of the song, as is a habit of Billy's, the subtitles were spot on.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on this DVD, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 track. I listened to both tracks from start to finish.

    Dialogue was always clear and there were no visible audio sync problems.

    I was impressed with both tracks, although after listening to the analogue stereo 2.0 version on my VHS tape for ten years I have a definite liking for the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The 5.1 track has been fully mixed with the rear surrounds getting a solid workout for the entire duration of the concert. In addition to the audience sounds there are numerous instruments and backing vocals providing a nice enveloping soundstage. One particular highlight is the rear surround use on Piano Man when the crowd sing solo. It really makes you feel like you are there in the midst of it all.

    Subwoofer use was moderate. Billy Joel's music, due mainly to his use of piano, tends to feature higher in the frequency range and does not exhibit excessive bass. The opening bars of The Downeaster 'Alexa' do feature some nice lower range responses.

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

Extras

Menu Animation

    I think the menu deserves some mention on this disc as it is quite original. It uses baseball as its theme with the options being selectable from the main menu 'scoreboard' and the audio options being represented as baseball diamonds (large diamond for Dolby Digital 5.1 and a small diamond for PCM). The main menu also features a small looping animated and audio clip of Billy performing Storm Front.

Discography

    The discography offers the ability to select any of Billy's numerous albums and then see the track listing for each with an image of the album cover. A nice touch here is a sample track of one of the hits from each of the albums. This is a looping 10-15 second snippet and not the whole song. Even though the concert is from 1990,  the discography does cover material released after this date, though Billy's most recent release 2000 Years - The Millennium Concert is a notable omission.

Videography

    The videography is similar to the discography, listing Billy's video releases. There are no sample tracks from these, except from Greatest Hits Vol III. A 40 second sample is provided of this release which incidentally is the only other Billy Joel title currently released on DVD. This sample is presented full screen with a PCM 2.0 soundtrack. It isn't really a preview of the title, more of a random sample of what is contained on the disc.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 and Region 4 disc are exactly the same, even down to the NTSC formatting.

Summary

    What can I say about a disc that is going to get repeat playings on my system probably more than any other in my collection? Despite the limitations of NTSC formatting, this is a disc that exceeded what I was expecting. The audio is certainly the highlight and gives a whole new listening perspective after many years of making do with 2 channel stereo. The extras are limited and the short duration of the concert is a particular downside, but nonetheless this is a must-have disc for any Billy Joel fan.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Wednesday, April 04, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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