Rockwell Review

Rockwell was a benefit concert filmed at the famous O2 Arena in London, back in 2009. An eclectic group of mostly British artists came together for one night, in support of the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy. The headliners featured are Robert Plant, Joss Stone, Razorlight, and David Gray, not to mention a select number of other musicians making cameos like Ronan Keating and Supergrass.

Rockwell has each performer sing two or three songs before cutting to the next act. Cramming fourteen songs into a 66-minute concert, there is little time for banter by the musicians or much else besides the actual songs. There are a couple of highlights among the performances but every musician seems to be in fine form. No one phones it in, though the grand finale of all the performers together on stage to sing the Beatles’ “Let It Be” fizzles, as it is apparent no rehearsal was attempted before the concert for that number. It’s a chaotic and sloppy mess that should have been better with the involved acts.

The obvious standout has to be Robert Plant, former lead vocalist of Led Zeppelin. He performs three songs, including a blistering rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Rock classic, “Whole Lotta Love.” It’s a unique performance, mostly for the addition of a stringed African instrument into his sound. Joss Stone comes out after Plant and belts a couple of her songs in her trademark bluesy voice. A fun duet occurs later in the concert when she pairs up with Tom Jones to sing “It’s Your Thing.”

Rockwell is unlikely to convert any new fans, but current fans of these artists will find the concert an entertaining diversion. Rockwell probably doesn’t have much potential for replay value, as the diverse roster of acts means that very few people are going to like more than a couple of these musicians.

RAZORLIGHT

01. Fall To Pieces

02. Golden Touch

03. In The City

ROBERT PLANT

04. Black Dog

05. Fixin’ To Die

06. Whole Lotta Love

JOSS STONE

07. Free Me

08. Super Duper

TOM JONES

09. It’s Not Unusual

10. Sex Bomb

TOM JONES AND JOSS STONE

11. It’s Your Thing

DAVID GRAY AND ESCALA

12. Babylon

DAVID GRAY

13. Fugitive

ALL ARTISTS

14. Let It Be

Movie ★★★☆☆

Rockwell has pristine video quality for a live concert, though one has to accept some of the limitations that come with it being a music concert. Running a brief 66:45 on a BD-25, the video is encoded in AVC at bitrates that frequently exceed 40 Mbps. Framed in a standard 1.78:1 aspect ratio, typical for a program shot on HD cameras, the video is presented at 1080p. From a technical perspective, the distributor Intergroove has given Rockwell a top-notch video treatment.

There are absolutely no compression problems in the AVC encode, even as the performers dance around the stage under multi-colored stage lights. That includes a distinct lack of banding, a common problem for HD concert footage. The image is the picture of perfection with no trace of debris or damage. Contrast is right on point with a high degree of clarity and uniformity. Rockwell has a sharp, vivid picture quality that enables one to pretend they had a front-row seat at the O2 Arena the night it was filmed.

One problem which does prove visually distracting at times is the herky-jerky editing, as the director moves from one shot to another at a hyperkinetic pace. Rarely will a shot last more than a few seconds without cutting to the audience or some inane camera angle. This occasionally produces an unstable image with motion blur that grows increasingly tiring to watch as the concert progresses.

Video ★★★★☆

Two main audio options are provided for Rockwell. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is fine for a concert recording with excellent dynamic range and fidelity. The center channel is hardly used, as the music is predominantly spread between the left and right front channels. The rear channels are filled with the sounds of the cheering audience and the occasional musical moment, such as a trio of backup singers in vocal harmony. It’s not the most active surround mix for a concert but has been recorded cleanly with pristine vocals. Some of the music is much more aggressive engaging the subwoofer than others, such as the songs from Robert Plant and Joss Stone.

The secondary soundtrack is a stereo mix found in LPCM. It’s somewhat flatter in tonality than the 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack but does the job for listeners limited to stereo. There are no subtitle options provided.

Audio ★★★★☆

There are no special features included on this disc.

Extras ☆☆☆☆☆

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Note: Chris isn’t exaggerating in regards to the editing and motion blur. It’s so severe that grabbing anything other than a shot from the cheap seats was almost impossible. Unstable camera work in close only complicates matters. While clean, blur-free screens are always a goal here on DoBlu, Rockwell is not a cooperative presentation.