"Michael Bolton – Live at the Royal Albert Hall" Blu-ray Review
April 28, 2010 by Zach Demeter
Selling more than 50 million records, packing arenas worldwide, and earning multiple Grammys, Michael Bolton has cemented his legacy. His expert ability to craft the perfect love song, as evidenced by Barbra Streisand and Laura Branigan, and his collaborative work with artists as diverse as Luciano Pavarotti, Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan, KISS, and Kanye West, shows Bolton has mastered the art of transcending genres. He will tour internationally throughout 2010. This concert will also air on PBS in March.
Recorded at the famed venue in October 2009, this 110-minute DVD offers an array of tunes, spanning Michael Bolton’s 25-year career. Bolton’s voice, saturated with sensuality and soul, soars on his hits, such as Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay,” “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You,” “How Can We Be Lovers,” “Soul Provider,” Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind,” and Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman.” Dipping further into America’s treasures, songs “Fly Me To The Moon,” “Summertime,” “Crazy Love,” and “That’s Life” are embellished by his band and all-female brass section. “Murder My Heart,” a song he co-wrote with Lady Gaga, from his upcoming CD One World One Love (released domestically May 4), is also highlighted in this set. Additionally, a performance of “Nessun Dorma,” an interview with Michael, and the “Countdown” documentary, a 7-minute feature showing the day at the venue leading up to the show are part of the bonus features. The Blu-ray also boasts the bonus track “New York New York.”
While I’m far from the age demographic that Michael Bolton often sings to, I have to admit that I’m familiar with his works. My parents had quite a few of his CDs when I was growing up and as a result I’d hear Bolton’s music quite frequently in the house. While they eventually grew tired of him (he did become a bit over-exposed, admittedly), the old CDs still hung around and would occasionally be popped in for a listen. It’s probably been about a decade since I last heard them play any of those CDs though so watching this concert was kind of a strange reminder of days of old (I say this as if I’m in my 40s or something…but I digress). It’s certainly easy to see how Bolton remains relevant in the music world to this day—visually he’s gotten on in years, but aurally he’s still got that same pitch-perfect voice.
I’m not exactly a die-hard fan of the concert presented here, but I have to admit that the concert was quite a delight. As I previously said his music isn’t exactly my number one choice when it comes to listening to something (and as good as this concert was I’m still not interested in going any further), but this really was a fantastic performance all around. Over two hours on-stage with a full band and back-up singers is an impressive feat for anyone to tackle (especially when you’re wearing some kind of velour jacket or something…bold, Michael…very bold) and Bolton does it with extreme grace throughout the whole concert.
The full track listing for the concert includes:
1.) Soul Provider
2.) Said I Loved You
3.) Hope It’s Too Late
4.) To Love Somebody
5.) Dock Of The Bay
6.) You Don’t Know Me
8.) Fly Me To The Moon
9.) That’s Life
10.) Murder My Heart
11.) When A Man Loves A Woman
12.) How Can We Be Lovers?
13.) Steel Bars
14.) Times Love And Tenderness
15.) Can I Touch You There?
16.) Crazy Love
17.) Georgia On My Mind
18.) How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?
19.) One Love
Overall a solid concert and one that comes Recommended for Bolton fans. For those who still use Bolton as the butt of jokes when recalling 80-90s music that their parents listened to…well, you may be surprised with the results but I doubt you’ll become a fan. There’s a specific demographic that Bolton fits into and 20-somethings are generally not a part of that scope.
Eagle Rock Entertainment brings Live at the Royal Albert Hall to Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray case. A booklet inside contains information and photos from the concert as well as information about Bolton and the band, while the menu system for the disc lays out everything in a nice and tidy fashion.
Video is an AVC encoded 1080i performance and although it’s modern and generally well-presented, I can’t help but take issue with the compression used on the concert. While the majority of the concert (close-ups especially) looks fantastic with its multiple camera setup, some of the distant shots are really filled with compression noise. I’m not sure Eagle Rock has perfected the whole Blu-ray video encoding process, as they consistently release 1080i transfers with oddities like this…but I guess they must have some reason for sticking with the 1080i format. In any case the concert does overwhelmingly look fantastic—it just has a few moments of uncertainty.
Audio is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix (as well as LPCM Stereo and DD5.1, but the DTS-HD is, once again, the king of the trio) and it sounds genuinely fantastic. Bass is superb, the ambience given off by the crowd and setting is just as engaging as Bolton’s performance and overall you’d be hard pressed to find something to complain about with the audio. It’s pretty much as close to perfect as you can get for a live performance.
Bonus Songs - “New York New York,” and “Nessun Dorma”
Interview with Michael Bolton
They’re pretty brief extras in the grand scheme of things although the interview portion runs almost a half an hour in length (and the “documentary” under ten minutes). Overall it’s a fair set of extras for the concert and one that once again bumps this release to Recommended status for fans.
Michael Bolton – Live at the Royal Albert Hall arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on May 4th.