Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Center Stage |
Actor: Tommy Emmanuel
Director: Peter Berkow
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
Would've been perfect
Panglos | Cypress, Texas | 01/21/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you've seen the PBS special "Center Stage" that aired in 2006, you needn't worry that this disc duplicates material from that show. While the venue's the same, the setlist is completely different. Host Bob Littell shows up once again, this time only to accompany Tommy on harp. That's where the similarity ends. That was a great video; this one's every bit its equal.
Except for one thing.
One of the most endearing parts of a performance by Tommy Emmanuel is the communication he has with his audience. This shows up in Tommy's behavior, energy and enthusiasm while performing, and also between songs, when he talks to the audience. It's an essential part of the show. During the 2006 video the banter was edited but not eliminated. Unfortunately, this time the editors chose to delete almost all of the between-song chatter completely.
Instead of contributing to the flow, as apparently was their aim, this editing diminishes it. Without the breathing room Tommy's commentary provides, this video runs more like a studio recording, with each track segueing quickly into the next.
No matter how excellent a performer is, without inter-track relief as provided by Tommy's speech the viewer is bound to suffer some fatigue. Yes, Tommy's incredible. But the fact that his show features only one person and a guitar is a double-edged sword. The variety and personal perspective provided by his commentary contributes to an even richer experience.
Plus there's the fact that the video is not an accurate representation of what it's like to actually have been there. In reality, Tommy talks a lot more than this. We saw this show 3 months after this video was recorded, and our reaction to the first deletion was "what the...?" Because of the editing this video is not the same as being there. There's no reason that it shouldn't be.
The producers did put some of Tommy's extended comments on the bonus section, but that misses the mark. One can't simply decide that a meal would be more intense without liquid refreshment and include a pitcher of water at the end of it as an afterthought. It won't be as good as providing the diners beverages, and the opportunity for palate-cleansing, between bites and courses. That's what Tommy does, figuratively speaking, during the actual show.
Tommy knows what he's doing, and the product he creates. It should have been left as is.
Even with this criticism, 4 stars. We are, after all, talking about details.
But then, what is the entire concert, other than a study in mastery of detail?"
A superb, virtuosic performance by Tommy Emmanuel
John Delany | Adelaide, Australia | 11/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember being introduced to Tommy Emmanuel around the early 1990s, while he still toured Australia as an electric guitarist with band. At the time, his shows were an eclectic mix of hard rock, with a few acoustic ballads and some fingerstyle pieces, hinting at what was to come. After releasing his album "Only" (2000), Tommy established himself as a premiere acoustic soloist and has remained that way since. His guitar playing skills and overall musicianship continually amaze me. There are pieces here that seem only fit for two guitarists, not one! All of his music is played with energy, clarity and impeccable taste. Highlights of this performance for me were:
The Finger Lakes - a nice, moody build-up section to the main fingerstyle chorus.
Nine Pound Hammer - incredible rendition of a Merle Travis song. Tommy sings, while accompanying himself with walking bass lines and chords. The last section where he plays a right hand percussion rhythm, while left-hand tapping the bass line (and singing too) will bring a smile to anyone's face.
Happy Hours - a clever, uptempo fingerstyle piece, written by TE. This is one of those pieces that comes across as deceptively simple, yet has some very cool melodic parts, especially in the middle.
Mombasa - Tommy says "now we're going to go to Africa" before launching into an extended guitar-percussion solo, before AND after the song. I hope that microphone didn't give him too many headaches though.
Morning Aire - This is a sublime piece, and Tommy performs it flawlessly. This is the high-point on the DVD for me.
Lenny Bro - What a great new piece. It has a very strong rhythmic feel, with quirky melodic ideas. It sounds like TE was experimenting with the whole-tone scale in the middle section. Nice one!
Initiation - This is one of Tommy's trademark works, using the guitar with heavy delay and reverb, to create a dark, brooding atmosphere. After the percussive intro, I liked his immediate change of pace, playing a repeated 4-note pattern, with intensity and aggression. Play this one LOUD, on a good system.
Overall, "Center Stage" is well produced and is a great representation of the live experience - the only downside for me is the harmonica player that TE brought in for four songs. Bob is a great player, but unfortunately does not know when to stop playing, and often drowns out Tommy's solo parts. This ruined "Working Man Blues" and "House of the Rising Sun" for me. That said however, the songs I've already described are more than worth checking out. Tommy plays guitar with a rare authority and command, allowing the listener to take in the music as much as possible."
Hollis Pickett | Redding, CA | 11/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was at Sierra Nevada Brewing in the Big Room for night one of Tommy's stint there. The performance was everything anyone could ask for....the room crackled with energy. The venue is intimate (around 350 people), acoustically incredible and there's truly not a bad seat in the house. I consider it one of the highlights of my life to have seen this stellar musician live. This DVD definitely does not disappoint! Many thanks to Bob Littell and his great crew and staff for a wonderful evening of music and this heritage keepsake."
A new fan says- this will rock your socks off!
M. Hyght | San Antonio, TX | 01/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just discovered Tommy Emmanuel (Tony Enamel as he says people mistakenly call him) on YouTube. I had no idea this guy had been around so long. Man was I missing out!
I've played guitar for a long time and have a strong appreciation for real musical talent and ability developed and executed on it. This fella delivers nothing but that! He and his music are both amazing. And what makes it all the more enjoyable to watch is how much fun he has doing it. He really loves playing, is full of energy and seems like a wonderful guy. Still, if you have no concern for that part of the picture, Tommy's music and playing skills are a wonder to hear and see. He makes it look so easy you sometimes think you should be able to do what he's doing. So you pick up your guitar and... land right back in the real world again.
Anyway, the DVD picture and sound quality is great! 5.1 surround sound with a crisp, clear digital image. I hope they make more of these with Tommy before he retires (which hopefully won't be for many years!!).
God bless you Tommy. You've blessed us with the miracle of your music and personality. I wish you the absolute best."