Weak Talent Lineup and Packaging Hinders this DVD
Jon Leonoudakis | California, USA | 06/26/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Let's cut to the chase, shall we? The reason I obtained this dvd was because I love guitar and want to obtain the best guitar dvds out there. This DVD is pretty darn lame for a show that's supposed to be celebrating the Fender Stratocaster electric guitar on the occasion of it's 50th Anniversary, a huge milestone for a pop culture icon. There are basically two reasons to buy it: Gary Moore's incendiary tribute to Jimi Hendrix on "Red House," so hot it will melt your dvd player, and David Gilmour's three songs.
The rest is pretty tepid and the roster features some no-name talent that have NO Business being on that stage: Theresa Andersson!? Who? Yeah, she plays guitar, but she's a rhythm player. Jamie Cullum?! Who?! Nobody in his band even PLAYS guitar! What were these producers even thinking putting a keyboard band like this on the bill, LET ALONE the video? Amy Winehouse?! Who? She's a weak singer that can barely hold her own on Karoake Night at Billy Bob's BBQ-O-Rama and would got stomped by "American Idol's" Simon.
A few other fret-grinders play well: Hank Marvin (great version of "Sleepwalk"), Albert Lee, and Brian May. Paul Rodgers is in excellent voice. Joe Walsh slogs through four tunes, but his playing here cannot hold a candle to his monumental performance on Clapton's "Crossroad" Guitar concert DVD. He looks very tired and shagged out.
The All-Star jam at the end is awful, mostly because they chose a poor vehicle for guitar soloing, Rod Stewart's "Stay With Me."
Where were the rest of the Stratocaster greats? Ever hear of a guy named Eric Clapton? Fender even sells a Clapton Strat model. If I am organizing this show, I organize it around Clapton's schedule and I don't do it without him! How about Richie Blackmore, Yngvie Malmsteen, Jeff Beck (another guy you cannot do a Strat tribute show without), Mark Knopfler, and a slew of others I am no doubt forgetting.
The packaging for the DVD is so poor it bears commenting. The DVD's graphic design is incredibly weak...it drags the entire product into B-grade level. Staid and trite font choices along with cookie-cutter presentation of photos is at a quality level high school seniors can produce in a few days in Photoshop. The producers, Eagel Rock Productions, either were too cheap to hire real graphic designers and artists or their staffers need to go back to design school for a few more years.
The show has a very UK-bent to it (shot in the UK at London's Wembley Arena), which is odd since Fender is an American company. How you stage a production like this for such an important occasion in rock and pop culture without the requisite talent is beyond me. A much better value for your money is Clapton's "Crossroads" Concert DVD. All this being said, it bears repeating that Gary Moore's "Red House" really captures the spirit of the celebrated electric guitar and the event. The producers of this show at least go that right, and it's one of the greatest versions of "Red House" I've ever heard.
One can only hope when the 75th Anniversary of The Strat comes around, they look back on this terrible flop for the 50th and produce a show worthy of this great electric instrument."
Great Cause, Questionable Lineup
Philip Snyder | Amherst, New York United States | 12/02/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Well the idea SOUNDED fantastic: Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster with a live concert featuring some of its greatest practitioners. Unfortunately somewhere between conceptualization and realization, things went horribly wrong. Now maybe I'm not aware of the logistics needed to pull off such an event, but even a monkey with a bag over his head could've picked a better set of names. I WILL give the organizers this though, they struck platinum when they landed David Gilmour, easily one of THE premiere guitar gods to be associated with the Strat (or ANY guitar for that matter). Likewise Gary Moore. Though considered a Les Paul man since 1990, Gary has abused quite a few strats throughout his hard rock/metal days so he easily qualifies. And to be fair, they supposedly had the legendary Jeff Beck signed as well (certainly another of the greatest EVER) but somehow managed to lose him in the end. From there, things rapidly deteriorated to the point of complete confusion. Where was Robin Trower?? It's been said that he's been staying close to home due to touring costs. And Ritchie Blackmore?? Couldn't anyone convince him to plug in again for just one night?? How about Mark Knopfler?? Buddy Guy?? What about young guns Joe Bonamassa, Chris Duarte, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd?? Didn't anyone think of buying Eric Johnson a plane ticket??? Unfortunately, oversights like these made for a rather disappointing show. If you're a guitar-playing music fan looking for strat players to show you how it's done, you'll have to wade through a lot of junk to get to the good stuff. But enough whining; here are the highlights:
For me, the whole reason to buy this DVD is David Gilmour, who took the stage to a standing ovation. The crowd was not disappointed. Although he looked a bit thrown off by the house band at times (some cues were missed by the band during the free time intros to two of the songs), once he settled in he just soared. Without question, of all the acts that night, Dave displayed the widest array of sonic possibilities a stratocaster can offer: bending strings; caressing the whammy bar; using volume swells; feedback touches; playing behind the nut; all the while blending lush liquid melodic lines with searing hot earth-shaking licks. I've certainly seen him perform these songs better, but even "mediocre Gilmour" is stunning. The next reason to pick this DVD up is Gary Moore. Another astounding player, Gary performed a barn burning version of Red House, taking his battered strat from hushed whispers to absolutely blazing runs in the blink of an eye. Like Gilmour, he demonstrated how much can be done with the instrument in his way-too-brief set (I highly recommend picking up his Live at Montreaux DVD as well as tracking down his two flawless out-of-print VHS shows). Other highlights include Hank Marvin, whose simple but silky lines decorated with light whammy bar touches really showcased the gorgeous pure tone of the stratocaster. His set was a nice surprise and clearly illustrated why he was such a hero to many of England's greatest players. Then there was Albert Lee who lit up an otherwise dull moment by pop/country act Theresa Anderson. Lee's flashy chicken pickin' during Country Boy was a brief highlight of this otherwise dreary set. Phil Manzenera was another nice surprise. He played a mid-tempo instrumental with a slight Eastern flavor, taking advantage of the strat's tremolo bar. I would've liked to have heard more.
The extras here include interviews with some of the performers reminiscing about their first encounter with the Fender Strat and how it changed them. I found this segment rather enjoyable. If you are a guitar player yourself, you will likely relate to a lot of the comments and may develop a sudden urge to go shopping for a 2-tone sunburst strat with a blonde neck.
So bottom line, is this worth it? Well like most "star studded" concert discs, you will likely watch the full show once and then find yourself just jumping around to your favorite cuts later on. How many cuts are worth jumping to is obviously up to your own personal taste. All in all this is basically a fair DVD that could've been miles better. As a final thought, if you're on the fence and need just one good reason to drop some cash on this, remember that the proceeds go to Nordoff-Robbins Musical Therapy. And that's not a bad reason at all.
Not as good as I would have expected
Ed A. Coury | 10/16/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"...I agree with much of what has been written here. Just to summarize, as a musician, I enjoyed watching most of it; but it's pretty lame for such a momentous anniversary. Also:
1. Couldn't Fender round up some of it's signature artists (Clapton, Blackmore, etc.) ... even for taped appearances?
2. How lame to have a band with no keys, players using Gibson and other brand guitars, some musicians most people have never heard of.
3. How lame to see Paul Rogers struggling to read the lyrics to the finale (stay with me) and Ronnie Wood trying to direct the others; couldn't they have done a couple of rehearsals for such an event?
4. Ronnie Wood's voice shattered my fish tank and killed a guppy"
Best concert DVD ever
Kevin Wills | Atlanta, GA | 12/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ignore anything you have read about the standard DVD, The Blu-ray edition is superb. 1.78:1 widescreen using the MPEG-4 AVC is nearly perfect. DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track can not be beat. Not one bad performance.