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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Heart Alive in Seattle



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#1 of 4 Scott McAllister

Scott McAllister

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Posted March 21 2009 - 04:35 PM

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Studio: Image Entertainment
Year: 2002 (Blu-ray release 2009)
Rated: NR
Film Length: 103 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Languages: English DTS-HD MA 5.0, Dolby Digital 5.0, PCM Stereo






The Concert

The best part of seeing a favorite band in concert is the ability to break down the wall that stands between the artist and your stereo system. Your favorite songs go from being an aural experience to a full on cornucopia for the senses. Suddenly, the bass kick isn’t just thumping in your living room but thumping your entire body.

Of course, if you can’t get out to see your favorite artist the next best thing is a high quality concert video. Naturally, some of the experience is lost in the translation but there are some benefits to it as well. Bands know well in advance when they’re going to record a show, so the setlist and performances are usually top notch. The convenience factor can’t be ruled out either, and if you own a high-end home theater system the audio quality might come close to what you’d get in person. That having been said, it gives me great pleasure to announce that “Heart: Alive in Seattle” fits the bill of being a top-notch concert on Blu-ray.

Ann Wilson (vocals) and Nancy Wilson (guitars, backing vocals) have been performing as Heart for over 20 years, and clearly all that experience is evident in this show which was recorded in Seattle during their 2002 tour. Fans of the band will not be disappointed by the song choices for the evening, which range from old (Barracuda, Magic man) to covers of Led Zeppelin classics (Black Dog, Battle of Evermore).

One aspect that is crystal clear to me after watching this show is that Ann Wilson has a set of pipes that would make a comatose patient sit up and take notice. At once soft and comforting, and then instantly aggressive and authoritative, it seems as if Ann could hollow out another section of the grand canyon with the power of her voice. Completely disregarding the fact that she can sound eerily like Robert Plant when she wants to, the greatest evidence of her talent is an acoustic version of “Alone” that doesn’t miss a single note.

If I had to come up with a possible gripe, it would be the fact that many of the band’s hits from the early and mid 90s are absent from this show. This won’t be such an issue for longtime fans of Heart but for casual shoppers, not seeing songs like “Never”, “What About Love”, or “Nothin’ At All” could be a reason not to take the plunge.

The full setlist is:
1. Crazy on You
2.Sister Wild Rose
3.The Witch
4.Straight On
5.These Dreams
6.Mistral Wind
7.Alone
8.Dog and Butterfly
9.Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
10.Battle of Evermore
11.Heaven
12.Magic Man
13.Two Faces of Eve
14.Love Alive
15.Break the Rock
16.Barracuda
17.Wild Child
18.Black Dog
19.Dreamboat Annie

Picture Quality

I have not seen the original DVD release of “Alive in Seattle”, but I have to say that the HD presentation of the Blu-Ray is spectacular. This release is presented in 1080i as the maximum resolution, but it seemed exceptionally pristine and detailed to me. Stage backlighting is prone to showing off dust particles in the air, but Blu-ray makes it less of a distraction and more a part of the total experience. It’s easy to point out obvious visual cues like watching guitar strings vibrate or strands of hair gone astray, but for me the most telling giveaway on the picture quality was seeing a bead of sweat run down Ann Wilson’s neck and noticing that it was tinted blue from her eye makeup. In other words, the show looks great.

Audio Quality

All the visual treats and goodies in the world can’t rescue a concert video if the sound quality is crappy. Fortunately, “Alive in Seattle” delivers on this count as well. The DTS-HD master audio 5.0 track is full of life, with clarity and warmth. I had no problem at all discerning each individual instrument from the collective band, which is ultimately the point of a solid sound mix. If all you’re hearing is a mush of music, the point of clarity and delivery is lost.

The only question I have with the audio for this Blu-Ray is the lack of a .1 channel on the mix. I can’t think of a reason why it wasn’t included, but I don’t want to speculate either. I should say that regardless of the audio track being a 5.0, the bass kicks still made my speakers get a decent workout and the overall quality is top notch.
Special Features

“Heart: Alive in Seattle” has a photo gallery of backstage and on-stage events during the August 8th recording of the show. There’s also a multi-page listing of liner notes and a special thanks from the band.
The Blu-Ray version of “Alive in Seattle” is essentially a hi-def port of the existing DVD, so the special features are ported over with it. As such, I can’t penalize it for what would normally be considered a menial amount of extra content.


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#2 of 4 PaulDA

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Posted March 22 2009 - 01:00 AM

LFE is unnecessary for music, if one considers its original intent. With the overwhelming majority of HT setups having less than full range speakers at all channels (and thus using bass management to send signals to the sub), I can't see that 5.0 vs 5.1 has any relevant difference in music.

As a long time fan of Heart, I've been planning to add this to my collection.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes time, and it annoys the pig.

#3 of 4 Scott McAllister

Scott McAllister

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Posted March 22 2009 - 02:43 AM

Ahh, thanks for info Paul. I suspected that it had something to do with what a performance would ultimately need to get the point across.
"Being God must be tough, huh?"

"When you do it right, nobody thinks you did anything at all."

#4 of 4 Scott Merryfield

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Posted March 22 2009 - 02:45 AM

Thanks for the review, Scott. I've been considering buying this title, but wasn't sure about the quality of the disc or performance. It sound like a winner on both counts.