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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Michael Bolton - Live At The Royal Albert Hall DVD review

Michael Bolton – Live at the Royal Albert Hall (Eagle Vision)

Sadly these days – for many rock fans – Michael Bolton is not the man he once was and is today best known to millions of housewives who just love the old crooner that he seems to have become.
That said a good guitarist friend of mine, a year or so back said he went with a lady friend, to go and see Michael Bolton live and came away saying, ‘You know what Al, at first I begrudged paying the ticket price, but by the end of the night, I realized it was a really good show and he impressed me and his band.’

So what to think about the Michael Bolton current validity as a singer, rock star and musician today, especially when you think back to the late 70’s when Bolton was in hard rock act Blackjack, with rock guitarist Bruce Kulick?
They even toured as opening act for Ozzy Osbourne, oh how the times change!

Bolton does have some good rock releases too in ‘Michael Bolton’ (1983) and ‘Everybody’s Crazy’ (1985), while in 1987 ‘The Hunger’ was a clearer indication of where he was headed with more ballads, but he still pulled in some classy rock guests on this release; Jonathan Cain, Neal Schon and Randy Jackson – Yes, today’s American Idol judge! – all from Journey, along with names like Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Deep Purple, Yngwie Malmsteen), Eric Martin (Mr. Big) and David Glen Eisley (Giuffria, Dirty White Boy) on backing vocals too.

‘Soul Provider’ in ’89 was really the most obvious pointer of where he was going directionwise.
That said he also got recognized for his songwriting talents by many people and has written songs that have helped other artists to sometimes achieve a little unplanned success. Laura Branigan, Cher, Kiss, Kenny Rogers and many more too.

Since then he’s covered soul classics, band big songs, sung alongside opera legends Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, José Carreras not to mention artists like Patti LaBelle, Céline Dion and BB King to name just a few and he’s even released an album called ‘Bolton Swings Sinatra.' I think it’s clear we won’t see another rock album from Michael Bolton again, that said his last album ‘One World, One Love,’ featured the promising single ‘Just One Love.’

OK, that’s a lot of background on the man, Michael Bolton, so what does this DVD offer?
Well, the man has still got his distictive voice, of that there’s no doubt and an impressive, big backing band, that includes one time AOR man Michael Thompson on guitar and musical director / guitarist Chris Camozzi can play a bit too as we see here clearly.
The crowd in London’s Royal Albert Hall though, was clearly filled with mostly the older, more mature women …

Opening with a very lengthy – over 6 minutes – ‘Soul Provider’ before continuing on the same path as he starts, with ‘Said I Loved You But I Lied,’ ‘Hope It’s Too Late,’ ‘To Love Somebody’ and ‘(Sittin’ on) The Dock Of The Bay,’ he has the audience in the palm of his hand from the start, giving them exactly what they wanted.

Now it’s serious crooner territory with, ‘You Don’t Know Me,’ ‘Summertime,’ ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ and ‘That’s Life,’ which are all very respectable and sure, it shows the guys ability to switch things around here and there.

He then gives us the song he co-wrote with current pop favorite, Lady GaGa in ‘Murder My Heart,’ mmm. Probably the less said about that, the better, although the presentation here isn’t too bad, with the exception of the ‘overdone’ handclaps of the modern day ‘R & B’ sound, Michael Thompson’s tasty guitar sound helps much.
Bolton then moves out to appear in the middle of the crowd for, ‘When a Man Loves a Woman.’

Now he switches into some of his better late 80’s material with, ‘How Can We Be Lovers,’ which seems to get the most audience participation of the evening. Then it’s ‘Steel Bars’ and ‘Time, Love and Tenderness,’ which were a little refreshing here.

‘Can I Touch You There’ next, then slips into that zome that really doesn’t work for me, then ‘Crazy Love’ and a nice version of ‘Georgia on my Mind.’
He then does an impressive presentation of the huge ballad ‘How Am I Supposed To Live Without You,’ with just the piano player and of course the Royal Albert Hall ladies choir for the chorus.
He closes the set and DVD of the show with what I will say is a better new song in the single, ‘Just One Love,’ which has a good full band backing sound and big hook in the chorus and then he’s done.

There’s a pretty reasonable and lengthy interview with the man as well as the bonus feature here, but it does seems that he’s rather avoid going over his rock era. Shame.

I really can’t knock the guys talent or the backing band and overall performance, it’s just that this really isn’t a rock DVD.
I covered this release here, because I admire the guys earlier rock work and his ability I guess to adapt in many different genres today.

Overall performance / presentation 4 out of 5
For me personally, musical appeal: 2 out of 5.

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