Considered the father of British blues, John Mayall is one of the most famous names in the blues genre and while many would be quick to bring up Eric Clapton’s name first, it was really Mayall who pioneered the field. Of course Clapton left Mayall’s Bluesbreakers band to form his own, but that didn’t keep him and a few other old friends from returning to celebrate Mayall’s 70th birthday and recreating a fantastic set list that spans the Bluesbreakers career. From the two and a half hours that the concert runs to the sixteen song set-list, the enjoyment fans will get from owning this concert will go on long after the initial viewing is over…if only because repeat viewings are inevitable.
Liverpool’s King’s Dock on July 19, 2003 was the venue for a long awaited and much anticipated reunion between Eric Clapton and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. The occasion was both a celebration of John Mayall’s 70th year and a fundraiser for UNICEF. Also invited to the party were former Bluesbreaker and Rolling Stone Mick Taylor and veteran trombonist Chris Barber. If you’re a lover of the blues it doesn’t get much better than this. The show ran for around two and a half hours and the film is now presented here in its entirety for the first time.
Once again I know jack all about blues, but I can at least take pleasure in witnessing it for the first time through these Eagle Rock Blu-ray releases. Although a lot of their Eagle Vision HD releases have been first time efforts, this concert had seen release previously in 2003 on DVD, but this obviously marks the first time that fans will get to see the concert in full 1080i HD and in lossless surround audio. But we’ll get to that in a minute, first I’ll cover the concert itself.
I use the word “fans” a lot in these music reviews for good reason: I can’t really review a lot of these concerts objectively as these releases are meant for a single audience and when I’m not a member of that audience, I feel like a stranger looking in on the concert. To me I just laughed at the group of old guys on stage singing the blues, but once the initial shock of that wore off, I really did get into the concert and begin to enjoy the music. While the blues isn’t necessarily my favorite genre of music, it is one that I’ve grown to appreciate (again, mainly due to these Eagle Vision HD releases) and it’s clear that Mayall and company brought their A game to this concert as it is absolutely remarkable to watch. More fun than anything, really, as I’m sure they’ve played the songs better in the past, but it’s just a fun concert to watch regardless.
The aforementioned sixteen song set list includes:
01) Southside Story
02) Kids Got The Blues
03) Dirty Water
04) Somebody’s Acting Like A Child
05) Blues For The Lost Days
06) Walking On Sunset
07) Oh, Pretty Woman
08) No Big Hurry
09) Please Mr. Lofton
11) All Your Love
12) Have You Heard
13) Hoochie Coochie Man
14) I’m Tore Down
15) It Ain’t Right
16) Talk To Your Daughter
Overall this is a concert that comes Highly Recommended to fans…but I’ll be completely honest and don’t even know what to look for when it comes to quality of this genre. I just know I enjoyed what I saw, so I can only imagine that fans will eat this concert up.
Eagle Rock Entertainment has brought this concert to Blu-ray with a standard Elite Blu-ray case that houses the disc, double sided jacket insert an eight page booklet that includes photos from the concert as well as letter from John Mayall. The video arrives in an AVC encoded 1080i transfer that brings the concert to life well, although I noticed that the whole image appeared very soft to me. Occasionally we’d get bursts of detail (such as sweat or clothing texture), but overall it was a very muted picture in terms of detail. Still, it looked good and sounded even better, with the DTS-HD Master Audio taking preferential treatment over the LPCM and DD5.1 mixes offered.
Extras include a set of Bonus Songs (25:37, 1080i) that has “Grits Ain’t Groceries,” “Jacksboro Highway,” and “California” being played. Finally a quick Interview with John Mayall (12:04, SD) is included as well, which is a very nice sit-down with the singer/songwriter.
Overall, once again, a Recommended release for fans. Extras aren’t major and the video isn’t all that amazing, but the audio is fantastic…and that’s really all you can hope for from a concert Blu-ray.
John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers and Friends is now available on Blu-ray.