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Image Entertainment presents
Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire: Live at the Greek Theatre HD-DVD (2004)

"Let me ask you a question. Do you mind if we get funky in here?"
- Philip Bailey

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: March 09, 2007

Stars: Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire
Director: Jim Gable

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 02h:51m:36s
Release Date: December 12, 2006
UPC: 014381380248
Genre: rock


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-B-B D+

DVD Review

The bands Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire were among the most popular pop groups of the 1970s, and they were united in a 2004 tour that was packed with nostalgia. This HD DVD documents a live performance at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, their third night in that venue. There's a level of comfort with the venue that allows the two bands to give their best without too much distraction. The audience is certainly appreciative for the nearly three hours of music.

The two bands perform briefly together at the beginning, then Earth, Wind & Fire performs a generous hourlong set. Chicago follows with a set of their own, and then the two bands combine for a closing series that runs about half an hour. It's certainly a substantial concert with plenty of value if you're a fan of either or both of these outfits.

One problem with bands that are numerous decades into their existence is that while the instrumentalists may still have their chops, the vocalists are pretty well shot. That's absolutely the case with Chicago's lead vocalist, who has virtually nothing left in the tank, an extremely limited range and no upper register at all; with many items in the band's repertoire, that's absolutely deadly. For much of his set he has to yield the vocal duties to a couple of bored-looking youngsters who don't have any of the enthusiasm of their elders.

Happily, that's not a problem with Earth, Wind & Fire frontman Philip Bailey, whose voice is smoothly textured and offers a wide range and a smoky falsetto. The EW&F ensemble is quite lively and seems to thoroughly enjoy their brand of watered-down mainstream funk. The flamboyant bassist is entertaining just to watch. The combination of these two bands works exceedingly well together, and even in their solo sets they swap personnel on occasion, most memorably with Bailey taking the lead vocals on a soulful rendition of If You Leave Me Now with Chicago.

Oddly, although they obviously have top-of-the-line equipment, Chicago chooses some cheesy if not downright crummy piano synths that are highly distracting on piano-dependent songs such as Colour My World. There are some problems with the miking of the horn sections, which is more of an issue for Earth, Wind & Fire. The camera moves constantly and the editing is hyperkinetic, which seems a dubious choice for a concert most likely to appeal to those of us who are elderly and annoyed by such ADD tactics. But there are plenty of familiar tunes and hits here to please their fans, and the performances are always energetic and infectiously enjoyable.

Songs:

Chicago/Earth, Wind & Fire:

Beginnings
In the Stone
Magic Mind

Earth, Wind & Fire:

Boogie Wonderland
System of Survival
Jupiter
Getaway
Serpentine Fire
Kalimba Story
Got to Get You into My Life
The Way You Move
After the Love has Gone
That's the Way of the World
Reasons
Fantasy
Let's Groove
Mighty Mighty

Chicago:

Make Me Smile Medley (Make Me Smile/So Much to Say, So Much to Give/Anxiety's Moment/West Virginia Fantasies/Colour My World)
If You Leave Me Now
Call On Me
Alive Again
Hard Habit to Break
Mongonucleosis
Old Days
Just You 'N' Me
Saturday in the Park
Feelin' Stronger Every Day
I'm a Man
Hard to Say I'm Sorry/Get Away

Chicago/Earth, Wind & Fire:

September
Free
Sing a Song
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
Shining Star
25 or 6 to 4


Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The 16:9 program was shot in HD video, so it appropriately enough looks very clean and detailed. The program is compressed using the AVC (MPEG4) codec. Some of the cameras have a juddery character to them; that's most noticeable with the camera right next to the drummer and seems that it may just have been picking up vibrations from his drum kit, so I'm not docking transfer points for that even though it's rather irritating. Colors are bright and vivid throughout, and black levels are reasonably good for a well-lit live performance. I didn't notice any edge enhancement. There is an odd bit during Magic Mind where there's some pixelation and the video seems to move in slow motion for a second or two, which I will call a glitch.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
+
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The disc offers the viewer the choice of a 5.1 or a 2.0 DD+ audio, which is switchable on the fly. The 5.1 track is much louder and offers a far vaster soundstage; it will probably the track of choice for anyone who is 5.1-capable. Range is excellent, with plenty of deep bass. The guitars and the drums have nice crisp attacks and sound terrific. The horns tend to get a little lost in the mix at time, and don't have a good impact like they should; their brassy edge is entirely missing. The vocals are clean and free of distortion.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 34 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 33 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Japanese with remote access
Packaging: Elite
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Drum Duel
Extras Review: The sole extra is a "Drum Duel" excerpt (4m:50s) in which various drummers from both bands strut their stuff. Interesting for percussionists, but it goes on a bit long as drum solos are wont to do. It was wisely cut from the full concert, I'd say. The disc was manufactured in Japan and carries only Japanese subtitles.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

Despite some vocal limitations, these two bands combine to give enjoyable performances of a steady stream of hits. The transfer is quite attractive.

 


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