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Live At The Albert
Starring: Robbie Williams
Words by: Adrian Deevoy and Lucy Pullin
Directed by: Hamish Hamilton
Retail Price: $19.98
Features: Backstage and Aftershow Footage, Well Swung, Somethin' Stupid Music Video, Making Of Somethin' Stupid, The Day Job, Gallery
Specs: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Stereo, Track Listing (17 Songs)
Released: April 23rd, 2002
Ah yes, Robbie Williams. I suppose he does have a fairly decent audience in the United States and his fans, but he's not a major pop star here. Even though he's had some rather impressive and big gigs, I guess you could as far to say that he's more of a cult singing star in the States. But on the other side all the way in the United Kingdom, it's seriously a whole different story.
Williams is the type of music star people tend to love, which puzzles me why he hasn't hit it here majorly yet. His attitude and sometimes cocky behavior causes controversy, but you really just can't help and enjoy him. His song stylings do remind one of a golden age of sexy appeal and classiness of sorts with crude undertones, complete with big bands, strong songs and a whole element of swing all tied with mainstream musical stylings, with a high influence on the Rat Pack era.
This DVD presents his one night only concert at England's Royal Albert Hall, where his performance took place on October 10th, 2001. If you want to see a major concert for a major star, then you can't go wrong here. You've got just one big performance with Robbie's big band in a giant hall, where we can see in various shots that the audience is enjoying the performance and clinged to their seats. As far as the production values of this concert, this is one of the most impressive concerts I've seen on DVD. There are multiple camera angles close and far, so we get various shots of Williams, the band performing, the audience, his guests and more. The editing style and flow is quite good here too. Also, here and there is some backstage footage of Williams (check him out trying on that hat).
From all this, we can really see what makes this kind of stir. This performance also includes some special guests, like Rupert Everett hosting, singing and actress star Jane Horrocks and one of my personal favorite actors, that "fat, Jewish bloke" Mr. Jon Lovitz having a duet with Robbie. Overall, this is a fine concert performance worth watching, especially if you enjoy Mr. Williams's music.
So what songs do you get? Well, "Have You Met Miss Jones?," "Mack the Knife," "Straighten Up and Fly Right," "Let's Face the Music and Dance," "Well Did You Evah?," "Lady is a Tramp," "Things," "One For My Baby," "Mr. Bojangles," "I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen," "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me," "Beyond the Sea," "Me and My Shadow," "Ain't That a Kick in the Head," "It Was a Very Good Year," "My Way" and a reprise of "My Way."
The concert is presented in a lush anamorphic widescreen transfer, at the aspect ratio of what appears to be 1.78:1. In either case, this is a superb transfer. Shot on digital video, the performance here features a lot to like. Fleshtones are spot on that look quite natural and realistic, with all the lights, colors, flashes and hues you'd expect in this kind of setting. The colors here are bold and really well saturated, yet sometimes they do like they smear just a tiny bit. Still, they give off a rather three dimensional look as if you are there witnessing this. Shadow detail and black levels also hit their marks, while detail is fine and good. Sometimes there is noise and halo edges that can be noticed, but in the end, you get a great transfer that is quite pleasing.
The concert is presented in two channel stereo and 5.1 Dolby Digital, both in English. There's no argument here: the 5.1 Dolby Digital track is truly preferred. The stereo track is flat and standard, while the 5.1 Dolby Digital track brings the concert to full life and gives the closest experience to actually being there. The crowds cheering and background noises sound really nice and puts you in the posistion of actually being there, but full life comes to this track, of course, through the music. The subwoofer's effects are incredibly strong, while the surrounds themselves are great. The band kicks it high, capturing all the instruments and putting them in their own equalized places. As great as the back end is, the front end is incredibly strong too. The vocals are clear and nice to listen to, all while not being overpowered by everything else. Overall, the 5.1 Dolby Digital track is quite uniform and captures it all. Very nice.
Concert DVDs aren't known for jamming in a variety of extras, so I'd say it's quite valuable and nice when studios go out to make some extra effort and add more material to what they're putting out. While it's not stocked up fully, this performance of Robbie Williams at the Albert showcases some cool extra stuff. I guess I should start out with the Backstage and Aftershow footage first. This is just a fun montage of Williams getting ready and celebrating after the performance. Some laughs here and stuff with other people, it's pretty enjoyable.
Next is Well Swung. Divided into seven different sections, it's basically some Robbie footage and then some. It's basically Robbie recording tracks for an album. He narrates it and talks about the songs, the recording place and the like (a big Sinatra fan, he does seem to like the idea that Sinatra was in the actual place). Basically, it's just different footage of him recording songs, the process all filled with interviews. It's pretty nifty.
Gallery has fifteen different publicity stills, while The Day Job is another montage of sorts of concert performances, music videos and his songs that jumps around.
Finally, we have Somethin' Stupid and The Making Of Somethin' Stupid. You may have heard about Robbie's remake in the news and all (some television stations showed footage when talking about it), where is did stay on the British pop charts for a bit of time. The somewhat risque video has him and Nicole Kidman in the 1950s, taking a Christmas vacation. It's a really cool video and a nice remake. The making-of has clips from the video, behind the scenes footage and interviews with the director on creating the video, his inspirations to create it and it's 1950s shift. He talks about working with Robbie and a lot of elements, so it's pretty nice, insightful and informative as he touches on elements of shooting it, costumes, sets and more.
The best news here, I'd say, is that all the extras are presented in anamorphic widescreen, with the exception of The Day Job. Also, the packaging is sleek and firm, with the booklet attached to the inside all filled with some nice notes. Nifty indeed.
"Robbie Williams: Live At The Albert" is one of the best concert DVDs I've had the pleasure of experiencing. It's presentation is quite wondrous, not to mention it packs nice extras. If you're a Williams fan, pick this up. Otherwise, it's surely worth checking out.