Tom Petty’s death last year reminded many people of how great an artist he was, and watching him on ‘Live in Concert’ with the Heartbreakers is sure to break yours.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Live in Concert
Director: Joe Thomas Starring: Tom Petty, Ron Blair, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Scott Thurston, Steve Ferrone. Movie: A– | Picture: A| Sound: A– | Extras: B
Tom Petty died, surprisingly and surprisingly early, just a few weeks ago as I write this. There seemed to be a broad reaction: ‘Oh, I’d forgotten about him.’ It struck me that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the other artist we’re looking at this issue, are in that weird category of enormously successful performers who, for some reason, are perpetually out of fashion. Their fans are as fanatical as any, but there don’t seem to be many who view their fandom as a status symbol. Their fans don’t bemoan that album where the group ‘went commercial’. They love them as they are.
This concert is part of the Soundstage TV series, this one captured on the return of the series in 2003 after a two decade hiatus. The venue is fairly small and relatively intimate for a full band set-up. The audience is maybe a couple of hundred strong and the venue is well lit. Each of the band members clearly has their own particular fans amongst the audience.
Four Heartbreakers including Petty himself are from the original 1976 incarnation.
The concert is in two parts for no obvious reason, and there is a bunch of bonus tracks, amounting to more than two hours of music. It starts off a little low in energy, the band members in nice suits and pleasant smiles. Musically the group is tight, controlled, and precise. There’s no doubting the musicianship.
But by the seventh song the band has shaken loose, the jackets have mostly been shed. And there’s a great deal more energy. The extended, near prog rock, excursions in the middle of Melinda signal a move away from the straight southern rock with country overtones. A couple of bluesy rockers are followed by a powerful performance of Refugee to finish off the first program. The second program must have been recorded on a separate day because it starts with jackets on again.
There are three versions of the audio provided. The default is a lossless surround track in the form of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. It has 48kHz sampling with 24-bits of resolution. If you have a surround system, this is the best mix because it leaves the music at the front, just adding a little depth in the front sound stage, while pulling out the audience applause and cheers and feeding them to the surround speakers. The 24-bit stereo LPCM version leaves these up front as well, occasionally reducing the clarity of the music.
The mix is a bit brighter than usual for this kind of concert, softening the bass somewhat, and emphasising the Dylanesque tone of Petty’s voice.
Running time: 109 minutes Picture: 1.78:1, 1080i60, MPEG4 AVC @ 29.74Mbps Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 24/48 3/2.1 @ 5356kbps (core: DTS 24/48 3/2.1 @ 1509kbps); English: LPCM 24/48 2/0.0 @ 2304kbps; English: Dolby Digital 3/2.1 @ 640kbps Subtitles: Nil Features: 8 Bonus Tracks (1080i60 - 33 minutes, same audio as main) Restrictions: Exempt, Region Free
Meat Loaf Guilty Pleasure Tour
Director: Paul Brown Starring: Meat Loaf, Patti Russo, Paul Crook, John Miceli, Randy Flowers, David Luther, Danny Miranda, Justin Avery, Ginny Luke. Movie: B| Picture: A| Sound: B| Extras: B
Everyone bought ‘Bat Out of Hell’ back in the day. It’s likely the fifth biggest selling record of all time with sales of 43 million, and it apparently still sells 200,000 per year. Yet getting the label’s promotions people to do anything with the record was a huge chore at the start. Why? Because it, and Meat Loaf, were uncool.
But the man himself and his management persisted. And as this 2011 concert in the Sydney Entertainment Centre attests, he still draws the fans.
By the time of this concert (enjoy it—five years later the building was demolished) his vegetarian days are clearly well behind him. He’s got a big rock band to back him and most of the music is delivered in a supercharged form—fast, colourful, loud and very, very busy. This is incredibly high-energy stuff. It’s no wonder that he occasionally collapses during performances. There’s a lot of sweat on stage.
The disc cover boasts of the fifteen high-definition cameras used to record this. Being Australian, it’s actually shot at 25 frames per second rather than 24 or 30/60. All those cameras were, it seems, used all the time. The cutting is as frenetic as the performance. It’s a rare moment when the camera is left on a performer for more than two seconds, and usually that’s during a fast zoom in or out.
The concert seems to be organised around a theme involving someone called Patrick, with a baker’s dozen of Meatloaf’s songs illustrating this person’s story… whatever it might be. There’s interstitial narration that was very hard to make out, and somewhat whistle-ly in sound through the PA, from where it was apparently recorded.
I was quite disappointed in the sound. There was a lot going on musically and it seemed excessively crowded, with no air or space in the recording. Meat Loaf’s voice was too far down in the mix. The drum lacked body, but otherwise was a touch too high in level. Initially it was exciting, but by the time You Took the Words was underway—around forty minutes in—it was getting wearing.
A 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio sound track—that’s the only audio track—should sound better than this; cleaner, more discrete in the elements. Especially as the mix uses the entire 360-degree space for the various instruments, sometimes even mapping individual drum strokes off to the sides or the rear.
But you know despite all those technical issues, and despite the fast video cutting, this disc is worth owning to see how one man, Meat Loaf, can hold a couple of thousand Sydney residents in the palm of his hand. Stephen Dawson
Running time: 125 minutes Picture: 1.78:1, 1080i50, MPEG4 AVC @ 32.00Mbps Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 24/48 3/2.1 @ 5133kbps (core: DTS 24/48 3/2.1 @ 1509kbps) Subtitles: Nil Extras: Documentary (1080i50, DD2.0 @ 448kbps - 38 mins) Restrictions: Exempt, Region Free