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Home arrow Reviews arrow DVDs, Blurays, and Videos arrow The Strat Pack - Live In Concert (with David Gilmour)
The Strat Pack - Live In Concert (with David Gilmour) Print E-mail

Strat Pack DVD
The Strat Pack DVD
Released May 2005, by Eagle Vision

The Miller Strat Pack concert, on 24th September 2004, which featured Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour alongside a whole host of top musicians at the London Wembley Arena, was a charity event. The concert alone raised £175,000 (around US$330,000), and this DVD, reviewed here, is expected to swell this figure dramatically, as it is also being sold in aid of the charity.

The concert was edited and mixed into full surround sound in David Gilmour's home studio, the Astoria houseboat, by David himself and Andy Jackson. It is a whopping two and a half hours long - the main aspect that has been edited out is David Jensen's onstage introduction of the artistes, along with a few tracks from some of the lesser performers on the bill.

The show features a broad range of different guitarists. There are obvious omissions from the line-up - no Eric Clapton, no Jeff Beck (a last minute cancellation) - but that's a small quibble. The performances throughout are strong enough that all thoughts of what might have been are banished.

The DVD cover features the true star of the show - and no other. The glossy 10 sided insert includes more pictures of Strats, pictures and quotes from the participants (including David Gilmour), and credits.

Strat Pack DVD
Gary Moore
Strat Pack DVD
Paul Rodgers

The DVD is presented in anamorphic widescreen, and I must say the picture quality is stunning. The screen shots here do it little justice - a crisp, sharp, colourful picture throughout - wonderful. The recording was overseen by former Hipgnosis partner, Aubrey "Po" Powell, and shot in high definition. And it shows.

Turning to the sound, you get three choices - Dolby Digital 2.0, DD 5.1, and a DTS soundtrack. The DD 2.0 is very good indeed, but if you have surround sound go for the 5.1 or DTS soundtracks - the surround mixes are sensible ones, placing you in the hall, with suitable use of the rear channels.

Having said that, if your equipment can cope with DTS, there is little to say apart from it is THE essential choice! It sounds far superior to the 5.1 soundtrack on our equipment. Overall, the sound is lovely - punchy, crystal clear, thoughtfully arranged - it transported me back to that September night when I was fortunate enough to be in the audience for the show.

Strat Pack DVD
Joe Walsh
Strat Pack DVD
Phil Manzanera

The concert starts with some of the earliest Fender users - The Crickets, who used to be fronted by one Buddy Holly. Albert Lee and Queen's Brian May help out in places - and do so elsewhere in the show, too. Next up, Hank Marvin, who starts with the curiously titled "The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt", but finishes with the familiar "Apache".

Scandinavian performer Theresa Andersson (with the help of Albert Lee) performs some country tinged tunes, in memory of Leo Fender, a big C&W fan. The distinctive vocal of Paul Carrack teams with a curiously lacklustre Mike Rutherford, for a journey through "How Long", "All Along The Watchtower", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "I Can't Dance" (a very strange choice).

Facial acrobatics then go into overdrive, with Gary Moore giving Hendrix's "Red House" his all - a great performance, if a little distracting visually...

The second half of the show started with a definite lull, with pianist Jamie Cullum and soul artiste Amy Winehouse. Thankfully, both are edited down to one song each. Cullum's inclusion I guess is justified to an extent with his bass player using a Fender Precision Pro - he is obviously quite talented and a good enough, if unremarkable, performance.

As for Amy Winehouse, it was the wrong audience for her type of music. From where I was in the hall, I heard heckling (which at one point she seemed to take as praise) which was not good to hear at a charity show.

Strat Pack DVD
Ronnie Wood
Strat Pack DVD
David Gilmour

Paul Rodgers gets things rocking again, with a selection of songs, including his most famous - "Alright Now", which had Brian May back on stage. "Can't Get Enough (Of Your Love) followed with Joe Walsh, who then performed a selection of HIS better known tracks - including "Rocky Mountain Way", "Life In The Fast Lane" and a great "Life's Been Good".

Phil Manzanera, ex-Roxy Music guitarist, appears next to perform the sadly little known "6PM", from the eponymous album, released last year. (The album itself features contributions from Gilmour, and is worth investigating - see our review). Then, he introduces one of the headline acts of the night - Mr Gilmour himself!

Strat Pack DVD
David Gilmour
Strat Pack DVD
David Gilmour

Playing the legendary white Strat, serial number 0001, and worth a fortune (despite clear signs of plenty of use!) David starts with a sublime "Marooned". The initial part of the song, before David was warmed up, features a few notes and chord changes that seemed a little... tricky, but once those fingers got warmed up, the notes flow fluidly and sweetly.

It was great to hear such a rarely-played track get a live outing. Some people I spoke to seemed a little concerned that we'd hear Money, Comfortably Numb, or similar, yet again. It was so refreshing to hear something different!

David's other selections were a little more familiar in the live environment - "Coming Back To Life" and "Sorrow". Both were good readings of these... the eighteen year old (eighteen!) "Sorrow" being particularly effective at showing the not necessarily Floydian crowd, David's command of his instrument.

One final performer before the finale - Ronnie Wood - performing a typically ramshackle "Ooh La La". All the artistes then returned to the stage for "Stay With Me" - which if memory serves, was edited in the segment when each guitarist did a little piece in the song. A nice if unremarkable way to conclude a great and varied show.

Strat Pack DVD
David Gilmour
Strat Pack DVD
Finale, with all artistes

Definately a DVD worth snapping up - with a range of good performances, great picture and sound quality, and benefitting a worthy charity. What more could you want?

Orders for the DVD, at a healthy discount, are now being taken by, Amazon UK, (Canada), Amazon France, or Amazon Germany through these special links.

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