Recorded at the famed venue in October 2009, this 110-minute DVD offers an array of tunes, spanning Michael Bolton's 25-year career.
Tracks include:1. Soul Provider
Michael Bolton. Similar to Kenny G and Celine Dion, the name alone invokes knee-jerk derision by those desperate to be cooler than their parents. Yes, his music is bland and forgettable. It's middle-of-the-road adult contemporary/pop, safe for any setting, whether driving with mom or sitting in the dentist's waiting room, but Bolton's such an easy target that those attacking him look lame by default, like a bully picking a fight with a kid in a wheelchair.
Plus, there's no denying the man's enduring success as a songwriter and singer in an industry that can quickly turn overnight successes into yesterday's news. From 1987's breakthrough "The Hunger" to 1993's "The One Thing", he had five albums go multi-platinum, two #1 singles, and won a Grammy Award for his cover of "When a Man Loves a Woman." His success has led to a good deal of charity work over the years, and he continues to release albums, work with today's top talent, and tour.
'Live At The Royal Albert Hall' was recorded October 2009 in London, England while Bolton was on tour to support "One World One Love." He performed in front of a very appreciative crowd and was backed by a talented band, complete with an all-female horn section whose members occasionally joined the back-up singers. Fans are treated to a set filled with hits and covers that go back to "The Hunger," for those who have followed his career for over two decades.
Bolton took up a guitar on The Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody" and then continued a run of covers. Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" was Bolton's first hit as a singer, and his blue-eyed soul stylings also worked well with Eddy Arnold's country hit "You Don't Know Me."
However, Bolton then hit a bad patch of ill-chosen covers. His voice doesn't fit Gershwin 's "Summertime". The song might be too familiar as done by a woman or a man with a deeper voice. "Fly Me to the Moon" also found him lacking, and I couldn’t help but think of versions by great singers like Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. I found myself in the same frame of mind again later in the set with "Crazy Love" and "Georgia on My Mind" back to back. Bolton obviously has no fear, but I'm not sure if it's bravery or insanity to take on Van Morrison and Ray Charles, two of the most talented and distinctive singers of the twentieth century.
Bolton righted the ship with "Murder My Heart," which he recently co-wrote with Lady Gaga. He delivered a fine performance of Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman," demonstrating that with the right material he can do justice to a cover. He sang it in the middle of the hall, and the British audience got up for the first time and surrounded him. They then remained extremely polite, even as he walked back to the stage.
After "Steel Bars", co-written with Bob Dylan, "Time, Love & Tenderness" displayed the mutual admiration society between Bolton and his fans. There's a wide age range of females who gave him gifts and shook his hand, and it's cute to see someone's grandmother kiss his hand. The penultimate song was his hit "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?" Everyone but the piano player leaves and it turns into a singalong with the audience.
Fans of Michael Bolton will certainly enjoy this concert, but if you aren't already a fan, it's not likely you'll find his greatest hits that great.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Eagle Vision brings 'Live At The Royal Albert Hall' to high-definition on a BD-50 Blu-ray disc housed inside a standard blue keepcase. The Region-Free disc boots up directly to the menu screen.
The video is presented with a 1080i AVC MPEG-4 and an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The source is clean and I didn't notice any artifacts. There's a wide range of color on display. Black levels are accurately rendered. Bolton and band members are frequently shot in front of darkness, which highlights the strong contrast. He also wears a jacket where the fabric catches and reflects light.
Objects are extremely sharp and their depth makes it seem like the viewer is in attendance. The very fine detail of the video screen can be seen, and at certain distances images displayed on screen amazingly have the same amount of clarity as their real-life counterpart. The long shots of hall provide a great amount of audience-member detail for a large number of people.
The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM 2.0, and Dolby Digital 5.1. I am not sure why the latter is included as I have yet to find a satisfactory track in that format from Eagle.
The DTS is crisp and clean. Michael and the band are balanced well together; neither overpowers the other, and the instruments blend well in the mix. The bass is solid and fills the bottom end nicely. The surrounds offer plenty of ambiance from the music as well as the enthusiastic audience. When Bolton is accompanied by just the piano, it reveals the quietest portion of the concert and demonstrates how expansive the dynamic range is. Imaging was negligible to non-existent.
'Michael Bolton – Live at Albert Hall' is a greatest-hits performance that Bolton fans should be very pleased with, and the folks at Eagle once again do a great job capturing the evening and presenting it on Blu-ray. Once seen, Bolton fans won’t be able to live without it.