Earth, Wind & Fire were formed at the end of the sixties but really hit their stride in the mid-seventies when founder Maurice White was joined by his brother Verdine on bass and lead vocalist Philip Bailey. The new line up went on to score a string of hit singles and albums in the US, the UK and many other countries around the world over the next decade and to pick up six Grammy Awards in the process. One of their many stops over their career was a 1997 concert in Montreux which was captured on video and is presented here on Blu-ray for the first time.
As part of the European tour to support the release of their “In The Name Of Love” album, the band played at Montreux and went down so well they were immediately booked to return the following year. This DVD features the whole of the July 1997 concert, which features a couple of tracks from their “In The Name Of Love” album surrounded by their classic hits.
My musical tastes tend to skew more into the rock and alternative area, so I’m a bit out of my element watching an Earth, Wind & Fire concert. It’s kind of like watching Kenny G (which I’ve done before…and very recently) perform, in that I know what I’m watching is really fantastic…when put in front of the right audience. But I’ve so little experience with the genre that Earth, Wind & Fire calls home that I can’t really determine whether they sound original or like everything else.
But as lax as my tuning skills are to this style of music, I can at least say that it certainly looked and sounded like a fantastic concert. I did enjoy watching it (as much as one can enjoy watching a concert containing music you don’t normally listen to) and it was clear from the way the crowd reacted that they were into it as well.
Of course what I didn’t immediately realize going into this concert was that there are actually two contained here (well more like one and a half I guess). The bonus features on the set contain seven tracks from their return 1998 performance at Montreux, and although they’re in standard definition, they’re still just as strong and entertaining in composure and performance as the 1997 concert presented in high definition.
The full track listing includes:
01) Rock That
03) Saturday Nite
07) Let’s Groove
08) Rock It
09) Sun Goddess
10) Can’t Hide Love
11) That’s The Way Of The World
12) Drum Solo
15) Mo’s Solo
16) Boogie Wonderland
17) After The Love Has Gone
18) Sing A Song
19) Shining Star
01) Kalimba Funk Intro
02) Pride / Mighty Mighty
03) In The Stone
04) Percussion Solo (Daahoud)
05) I’ll Write A Song
06) Love’s Holiday
Overall a fantastic main concert and a great supplementary concert make for as solid set. I’m sure fans will have a lot more to say about this concert than I do, but purely from an “outsiders” point of view this is a Recommended set to check out—fan or not.
Eagle Rock Entertainment brings Earth, Wind & Fire: Live at Montreux 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 the group, while the menu system for the disc lays out everything in a nice and tidy fashion. Sadly there are no extras aside from the aforementioned 1998 concert, which, again, is presented in standard definition (as it was only shot in that, apparently).
Video arrives in the form of an AVC encoded 1080i transfer. This is such an old concert that I’m surprised it looks as good as it did. There is a lot of softness and grain to take in, but overall it’s a very good transfer for its age. Twelve year old films rarely look this good and while it’s far from perfect, it definitely doesn’t look terrible. As far as audio goes we have a DTS-HD MA 5.1, DD5.1 and LPCM mixes and I actually found the LPCM mix to be the stronger out of the set. By default it’s “louder” than the other two mixes, but it’s also just a lot clearer. I’m not sure if the original source recordings were meant to be sent out in a 5.1 manner, so that may be why the stereo track sounds stronger than the other two.
And…that’s it. A Recommended release for fans, but others will want to Rent It first if they’re curious what Earth, Wind & Fire is like in concert.
Earth, Wind & Fire: Live at Montreux is now available on Blu-ray.