Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Concert DVD Review: Trevor Horn & Friends -- Slaves to the Rhythm -- A Concert for the Prince's Trust: Live at Wembley Arena, London (2004)

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On An All-Region (Or Region 0) DVD

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As Seal points out during his commanding three-song performance for this live concert produced for The Prince's Trust back in 2004-- he was a fan of musician turned producer Trevor Horn's without knowing it. Essentially he reveals that the man with whom he would eventually collaborate for fourteen years had produced some of his all-time favorite acts and albums that had inspired Seal even before he began making music himself.

And over the course of this tremendous DVD which features some of the coolest animated jukebox styled menus I've ever seen that let you jump around the playlist by artist and tracks, we realize that-- much like Seal-- we too were fans of Horn's without being able to understand precisely why either.

This is evidenced quickly into the DVD, as one by one some of his most successful acts-- going way back into the early '80s and opening with Horn's own group Buggles ("Video Killed the Radio Star")-- take to the stage. Whether the groups were merely one-hit wonders who are now more well-known for the songs performed than the band names themselves or they became ultra successful, it's a wonderful celebration of the diversity of the producer's musical acts. And to this end, the DVD moves from ABC's fast and catchy track "Poison Arrow" to the incredible use of keyboard, synthesizer and machinery noise on Art of Noise's "Close to the Edit" before serving up the overwhelming crowd pleasers.

Of course, the ultimate standout consisted of Seal's charismatic mini-concert as he bravely wandered to the edge of the crowd and mingled with the fans throughout "Killer," "Kiss From a Rose," and "Crazy." However, Wembley Arena seemed like it would burst at the seams when-- complete with their brand new lead singer with whom they'd never played before-- Frankie Goes to Hollywood launched into "Two Tribes," and eventually finished up the night by way of "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" and "Relax."

Fan favorites Grace Jones (performing "Slave To The Rhythm"), Pet Shop Boys ("Left To My Own Devies"), and Yes ("Owner Of a Lonely Heart") all rocked the arena as well but I was especially taken with the dynamite vocals of Lisa Stansfield's "Takes a Woman to Know" that seemed as though she was about to sing herself hoarse. Likewise, I really enjoyed the inclusion of my personal favorite bands-- Belle & Sebastian-- who, jokingly referring themselves as representing "the Glasgow contingent," played their amazingly angelic sounding "I'm a Cuckoo" and "Step Into My Office" from the Dear Catastrophe Waitress album.

It also features a mini-documentary on Trevor Horn that chronicled the elaborate set-up of organizing thirteen of his biggest acts, guest musicians, and an amazing backing orchestra (including an Oscar winner) to perform for Prince Charles and a crowd of screaming fans more than twenty songs. However, the live show is the main event and the expertly transferred DVD brings the concert to your living room with an impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.

This highly recommended disc is compatible with all DVD players as a region 0, all-region or region free disc which is only fitting since-- in addition to the diversity of acts from around Europe-- Horn had hits around the globe including the unparalleled honor of being the only producer "to have simultaneous number one records in both the UK and the USA."

Track Listing:

* The Buggles - Video Killed The Radio Star
* Dollar - Mirror
* Dollar - Give Me Back My Heart
* Grace Jones - Slave To The Rhythm
* ABC - Poison Arrow
* ABC - All Of My Heart
* ABC - Look Of Love
* Belle & Sebastian - I'm A Cuckoo
* Belle & Sebastian - Step Into My Office
* T.A.T.U. - All The Things She Said
* Art Of Noise - Close To The Edit
* Propaganda - Dr Mabuse
* Yes - Cinema
* Yes - Owner Of A Lonely Heart
* Pet Shop Boys - Left To My Own Devices
* Lisa Stansfield - Takes A Woman To Know
* Seal - Killer
* Seal - Kiss From A Rose
* Seal - Crazy
* Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Two Tribes
* Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Welcome To The Pleasuredome
* Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Relax

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