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Koch Vision presents
Soundstage Presents Chicago: Live in Concert (2003)

"You are my love and my life,
You are my inspiration,
Just you 'n' me,
Simple and free,
Baby, you're everything I ever dreamed of..."

- Chicago, singing their hit Just You 'N' Me

Review By: David Krauss   
Published: October 04, 2004

Stars: Robert Lamm, Walt Parazaider, James Pankow, Lee Loughnane, Bill Champlin, Jason Scheff, Tris Imboden, Keith Howland
Director: Joe Thomas

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:23m:05s
Release Date: October 05, 2004
UPC: 741952624493
Genre: pop

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ BB+B+ C-

DVD Review

Boy, do I feel old. After viewing the Soundstage presentation of Chicago: Live in Concert, I realized this classic band that revolutionized pop music by integrating brass into its rock 'n' roll arrangements has been around almost as long as I have—thirty-seven years to be exact, which means its original members are pushing 60. The musicians rightfully trumpet their longevity, take pride in their enduring popularity, and still relish performing for a live audience. They also don't try to hide their advancing age—as if they could. The unforgiving glare of television (especially high-def TV) exposes every wrinkle, receding hairline, and bulging belly, thus lending this celebratory concert an unsettling over-the-hill feel.

Although the band may be a bit decrepit, its songs remain ageless. Standards such as Saturday in the Park, Beginnings, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?, Feelin' Stronger Every Day, and 25 or 6 to 4 still put a smile on one's face, with plenty of rhythmic bounce and brassy accents keeping them fresh and lively. Robert Lamm, the group's elder statesman, looks and sounds much younger than his colleagues, and his dulcet tones defy the passage of time. In fact, if you close your eyes, the band sounds pretty much like it always has, especially when its two forty-something players do their best imitation of former lead singer Peter Cetera. Unfortunately, though, Keith Howland and Jason Scheff don't possess Cetera's range and emotion, and, as a result, such Chicago anthems as Hard Habit to Break (one of my all-time favorites), Just You 'N' Me, and Hard to Say I'm Sorry sound labored and dull.

The track list concentrates almost exclusively on Chicago's earliest and most identifiable hits from the 1970s, with only a couple of nods to their '80s renaissance. The '90s, which spawned such top 40 tunes as Will You Still Love Me? and Look Away, are completely ignored. Of course, it's tough to cull songs from 27 albums (five of which hit #1) and not skip a few gems, but the lineup should please the band's most devoted fans.

A few extended jams liven up the proceedings and give us a respite from the tired, strained vocals. The guys can still blow their horns, and the tight Chicago brass section often lifts the rest of the group to loftier heights. On the other hand, the group's most famous ballad, Colour My World, suffers from a breathy flute solo by Walter Parazaider, whose aged lungs can't meet the music's demands.

Time marches on, and Chicago still clings to the vine. While it's fun to walk down memory lane and see live versions of some of the band's greatest hits, this bland video never reaches the level of excitement we expect. A few spirited performances turn back the clock, but if you want to cling to that youthful feeling, skip this DVD concert and listen to Chicago's remastered CDs instead.

Make Me Smile
Colour My World
Now More Than Ever
If You Leave Me Now
Hard Habit to Break
Saturday in the Park
Just You 'N' Me
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
Feelin' Stronger Every Day
I'm a Man
Hard to Say I'm Sorry/Get Away
25 or 6 to 4

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: High definition video doesn't do the aging band members any favors, but does provide a clear, sharp image. Unfortunately, the 4x3 aspect ratio diffuses the effect somewhat. Colors, however, remain bright and rich, fleshtones look natural, and no defects sully the print.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The DD 5.1 track makes good use of all five speakers, allowing the music to truly envelope the listener. Bass frequencies are a bit weak, but the guitars, brass, and occasional flute sound crisp and possess solid presence. Slight vocal distortion could be detected at times, but never to a jarring degree. A passable stereo track is also included for lower end systems, but, as expected, can't compete in the fidelity department.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Music/Song Access with 15 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo gallery
  2. Discography
  3. Backstage Pass
Extras Review: A brief biography of the band kicks off the supplements, and focuses on sales and chart statistics, while a discography lists all of Chicago's recordings. A rather lame photo gallery includes 12 color shots of the group, all of which come from the Soundstage concert. Backstage Pass offers a text-based look at how Soundstage produces its broadcasts, and The Band presents mini-bios of all current Chicago members, including birth dates.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Few bands toot their horns like Chicago, and in this TV concert the venerable group performs its best-known hits. Advancing age, however, constricts the group's range and limits its energy, making this disc attractive only to diehard fans.


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