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Case Number 22746: Small Claims Court

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Steve Winwood: Live in Concert (Blu-ray)

Image Entertainment // 2004 // 55 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 16th, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge Patrick Naugle is back in the high life; Miller High Life, that is.

The Charge

Steve Winwood is about to give you some a-lovin'.

The Case

In 2004 pop musician Steve Winwood recorded a concert in Chicago for the WTTW Soundstage series featuring over an hour of music from both his past and present career. A quartet including Walfredo Reyes on the drums, Jose Neto on guitar, Edison A. DaSilva on percussion and Randall Bramblett on both keyboard and the saxophone backed Winwood in a filmed live event that eventually made its way to the home entertainment market.

The songs included on Steve Winwood: Live in Concert include:

• "Can't Find My Way Back Home"
• "Empty Pages"
• "Bully"
• "Glad / Freedom Rider"
• "Back in the High Life Again"
• "Dear Mr. Fantasy"
• "Why Can't We Live Together"
• "Rainmaker" (bonus song)
• "Different Light" (bonus song)
• "Walking On" (bonus song)

Steve Winwood has been toiling in music since the mid 1960s. His breakthrough was with the Spencer Davis Group whose hits "I'm a Man" and "Gimmie Some Lovin'" have become classic radio staples. Winwood moved on to join the group Traffic (along with Dave Mason, Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi) which became one of the essential classic rock acts of the 1970s. Winwood them moved on to the group Blind Faith (which included guitar legend Eric Clapton) for a very brief period.

After Winwood's association with Blind Faith he began making solo records and putting out hits including "Valerie" and "When You See a Chance" (a song that always makes me think of summer). In 1986 Winwood made the seminal "Back in the High Life" which spawned many hits (including "Higher Love") and brought him true superstar status. Although his output since then has been spotty at best—including a few more hits like "Roll With It" and a reunion with his band Traffic—Winwood has continued to make music and solidify his status as one of rock's most influential artists.

Okay, the history lesson is over. Steve Winwood: Live in Concert is not the most dynamic performance you'll see this year. I wouldn't necessarily write it off as unworthy of your ears, but the fact is this entire concert felt like I was listening to over an hour of songs only slightly more exciting than elevator music (and this is coming from someone who likes Steve Winwood's music). I wish that Winwood would have taken a bit more time putting this concert together as it feels like a weird cornucopia of songs that don't mesh into one cohesive whole.

Part of my issue with this concert may be that the songs I'm familiar with in Winwood's cannon—his late '70 and '80s solo hits—are generally absent from the set list. While it's nice to hear "Back in the High Life" (a personal favorite) as well as Blind Faith's mellow "Can't Find My Way Home," the bulk of this short set list are songs that I didn't recognize. The bigger problem is that Winwood's presentation of the material didn't prompt me to want to seek out any of his newer material. It really feels like he's just going through the motions until the curtain falls and the credits roll. The songs I didn't know didn't feature catchy hooks and just sort of faded into the background.

My complaints aside, I think hardcore Steve Winwood fans will enjoy listening to this concert in high definition. The show itself doesn't include any fancy sets or lighting; this is just Winwood and his band playing their music and little else. If that's all you're looking for, then this disc—around $12 dollars online—may be a worthy addition to your high-def musical library.

Steve Winwood: Live in Concert (Blu-ray) is presented in 1.78:1/1080i and was taken from original Soundstage recordings. Overall the video presentation looks good, which is on par with many of Image's other concert releases. The show itself doesn't include a lot of visual excitement—it's mostly Winwood sitting and singing. There are the obligatory pans over the crowd and other band members, but that's about it. The image is clearly rendered and features some nice lighting effects.

The soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 in English and a lesser LPCM 2.0 mix. Obviously, if you have the means I would stick with the 5.1 mix. When I review a concert Blu-ray I'll fully admit that I focus more on the audio than the video and Steve Winwood: Live in Concert doesn't disappoint; this is a spacious mix that engages all of the speakers aggressively. Fans of Winwood and concert discs in general will be happy with how good this audio mix is. No alternate subtitles are included.

The only extra features are three bonus songs: "Rainmaker," "Different Light" and "Walking On."

The Verdict

Steve Winwood: Live in Concert (Blu-ray) is really for diehard Winwood fans only.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 78

Perp Profile

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
• PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 55 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Blu-ray
• Concerts and Musicals
• Performance
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Bonus Songs


• SteveWinwood.com

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