You sit back, excited by the prospect of an enjoyable evening listening to a performance by one the greatest Jazz/Pop guitarists ever to walk this earth. Out strolls Mr. Benson looking suave in this three piece suit and flashing some very straight and very white teeth in a lovely smile. You applaud warmly as he makes his opening remarks un-aware of what is about to happen. Mr. Benson then picks up his trade mark Ibanez guitar and the band starts playing. Lovely you think, excellent sound, smooth and tight playing. Then George begins to play and Bada Bing! He sprays you and the other audience members with hot guitar licks, crisp clear singing and a selection of his best songs as well as some classics from others. 'Wow! I've just been blown away', you think! 'I knew he was good but bloody hell, that was awesome! I sure wish they release this performance on a good quality DVD one day, I'll buy that for sure'.
Well fans of good quality music, your wish has been granted. Warner Vision has released George Benson - Absolutely Live a performance recorded at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, Ireland in May last year. This concert features George Benson and his touring band plus special appearances from legendary Jazz pianist Joe Sample, The BBC Swing Orchestra and members of the Ulster Symphony Orchestra.
The playlist for this particular performance is:
|1. All Of Me||10. Danny Boy
|2. I Only Have Eyes For You||11. This Masquerade
|3. Beyond The Sea||12. Breezin'
|4. Deeper Than You Think||13. Love x Love
|5. Hipping The Hop||14. Turn Your Love Around
|6. Lately||15. Never Give Up On A Good Thing
|7. The Ghetto||16. Give Me The Night
|8. In Your Eyes||17. On Broadway
|9. Moody's Mood||
The video transfer for this disc is superb and up there with my other favourite music disc, The Corrs Unplugged. The aspect ratio for this transfer is 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. This transfer is sharp enough to cut glass and very detailed indeed! The colours are rich and clean and the black level excellent. As with the rest of this transfer, shadow detail is excellent.
Very little in the way of negatives with this baby! There is some minor aliasing on things like guitars, the piano and some of the other instruments. There is also a small amount of low level noise in some shots of the audience no doubt due to the low light levels in that portion of the auditorium.
The layer change for this disc is beautifully placed because it occurs on a fade to black right as Benson leaves the stage to change. The layer change is negotiated quickly and can be found at 58:16.
Supporting the excellent video transfer is a stellar audio transfer! I listened to both of the audio offerings on this disc. One is Dolby Digital 5.1 and the other DTS.
The Dolby Digital track has a very 'live' sound to it and makes good use of each of the 5.1 channels in your system. The front channels are the feature of the sound design with the rears used to create an involving sound field. This mix doesn't make the mistake of placing individual instruments in the rear channels and so sounds more realistic. The rears only become obvious when the audience applauds. This track sounds like it has been mastered at a slightly higher level than the DTS track. I'd say around 2 to 3 db.
The DTS track has a slightly less live or open sound to it but is more refined and better controlled. Instrument separation was slightly superior and sounds were crisper. I also felt that vocals were clearer and better separated. Finally, I found this track less fatiguing to listen to at higher volume levels. It's my pick of the two but I must stress that the Dolby Digital track is also very good.
There are three extras on this disc. The first is a sixteen odd minute featurette that includes interviews with George and the band, some footage taken during rehearsals and some scenes from around Belfast. The second extra is a three slide biography for George Benson and the final extra features six images of Benson taken during the concert.