Who knows what lurks in Judge Chris Claro's heart? The Shadows know.
From out of The Shadows come…The Shadows.
The aggressive guitar twang of such six-string demons as Duane Eddy, Dick Dale, and The Ventures bring to mind sun-splashed California beaches and wood-paneled station wagons with surfboards on top. The last thing hits like "Wipeout" spark is the thought of merry old England. But for musicians growing up on the Scepter'd Isle in the late 1950s, that definitively American sound was an influence that couldn't be fought.
Among the young rockers who responded to the American sound—in addition to John Lennon and Paul McCartney—were Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch, two of the numerous members of the oft-changing roster of The Shadows. Working in their early days as a backup for Cliff Richard, The Shadows became known for their intricate axe work and simple—if hokey—choreography.
In 2004, Marvin and Welch, along with drummer Brian Bennett, hit the stage of the Cariff Indoor Arena in Wales for, as the Blu-Ray is titled The Final Tour. In their mid-60s at the time, the musicians, particularly Welch, seem to have staved off the ravages of age and appear remarkably fit and able. Their energy and professionalism shines onstage, as The Shadows buzz their way through over 40(!) of their songs in just over two hours.
Between the spirited musicianship and the breadth of the catalog, The Final Tour is a pleasure to watch, even if one is unfamiliar with the music. The sole bonus feature, a contemporary 45-minute interview with Marvin and Welch, is an invaluable addendum to the concert, in which the musicians reminisce about their genesis, their influences, and their memories of playing behind pre-Beatles megastar Cliff Richard. The interview adds a layer of perspective to the performance that bolsters the disc immeasurably. (More about the band can be found in an exhaustive article at allmusic.com, linked in the Accomplices sidebar.)
The video and audio of The Shadows: The Final Tour (Blu-ray) are pristine. The strapping DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio enhances the arena experience, allowing every note to cut through. The 1080i video of the performance is equally impressive, though a number of crowd shots appear to have been done for some reason with a handheld camera and they're jittery and uncertain, detracting from the sharp-looking stage footage.
For one who was heretofore unfamiliar with the driving guitar work and charming step-kick-step choreography of The Shadows, The Final Tour is a serendipitous pleasure; an entertaining past-blast in which time has been kind to both the music and the musicians.
For both its poppy tunes and the context of its interviews, The Shadows:
The Final Tour is a Not Guilty pleasure.
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