Air Supply rocks a comeback concert in great A/V quality
Music industry legend Clive Davis signed Air Supply to Arista Records in 1979 and the rest is history. The Australian soft rock band released Lost In Love soon after in 1980, an album that included three Top-5 singles and Song of the Year. Seven top-five singles later, Air Supply had equaled the Beatles’ run of consecutive top-five singles. The albums Lost In Love, The One That You Love, Now & Forever, and The Greatest Hits have sold in excess of 20 million combined copies. This concert was filmed live in Hong Kong on August 11, 2013. Air Supply continues to rock their patented brand of softer ballads and more up-tempo songs, seemingly not fazed by age or time. It is an enthusiastic, vibrant performance for rockers in their 60s.
Air Supply is the sound of Russell Hitchcock’s soaring tenor voice and songwriter/guitarist Graham Russell’s guitar-driven music. The British-born duo have seventeen studio albums under their belts, they still continue to tour heavily in Australia and Asia. This performance features greatest hits like “Lost In Love” and “All Out of Love,” to lesser known songs from more recent albums such as “Dance With Me.” Performed in front of an appreciative audience, it is an engaging show delivered by Rock veterans.
Air Supply delivers a quality performance in Hong Kong with a lively backing band. Jonni Lightfoot on bass guitar, Aaron McLain on lead guitar, Aviv Cohen on drums, and Amir Efrat on keyboard comprises the musical backing. Aaron McLain has a couple of different opportunities to show off his guitar skills with extended solos. Russell Hitchcock’s voice has seemingly aged very well, at least for this one show- his vocals hit the needed notes unlike some other aging rockers. Graham Russell’s guitar-playing and singing are in fine condition, the duo put on a very good show for the audience.
This performance has a conventional concert staging. Russell and Graham play at the front on a big stage, a backing band behind them. Filmed in Hong Kong, the predominantly Asian audience is far more polite than what you’ll get from a Western audience at a Rock concert. Their conservative behavior and well-behaved manners are typical for concerts in Asia, it is considered discourteous to do much more than politely clap after each song. Air Supply lightly engages the crowd between some songs, which does come to life for a couple of the most famous hits. The audience is encouraged on a couple of occasions to sing-along with the most familiar hits, though the relatively small venue does not lead itself to the raucous sing-alongs heard at outdoor festivals.
Air Supply’s many fans will definitely want to check this concert release out. The great backing band and solid A/V quality make it a Hi-Def delight.
1. Even the Nights Are Better
2. Just as I am
3. Every Woman in the World
4. Here I Am
6. Dance with Me
7. Desert, Sea, Sky
8. Power of Love
9. I Won’t Stop Loving You
10. Two Less Lonely People
11. The One That You Love
12. Lost in Love
13. Sweet Dreams
14. Making Love Out Of Nothing At All
16. All Out Of Love
EVO Sound handles the distribution and production for this release, the first Air Supply concert filmed in HD available on Blu-ray. The video quality is what you would expect from a modern concert. Its solid clarity and bright lighting is far better when the camera is trained on the band, while side angles often possess worse resolution and contrast. The high-quality video encode is spread out over a BD-50, allowing a crisp AVC presentation without artifacts. For a Blu-ray distributor with little experience, this Air Supply concert has turned out quite nicely.
The concert runs nearly 101 minutes, its AVC video encode averages 28.84 Mbps. The video is presented in 1080i resolution, the native resolution most concerts are filmed at for home video these days. Framed in the standard 1.78:1 widescreen ratio for HD video, the director avoids MTV-style cuts. Live In Hong Kong includes the occasional audience reaction shot but tends to alternate between Russell and Graham on stage. A few side-shots of the drummer and keyboard are included for variety.
The picture quality is razor-sharp under the bright stage lighting. Filmed in an auditorium, the band plays under a rotating set of stage lights. That leads to excellent contrast and solid levels of detail when the camera is trained on band members. The only real lapse in quality are shots of the drummer, filmed with cheaper cameras. For a live concert this is technically-sound, Hi-Def video.
Air Supply: Live In Hong Kong comes with two excellent audio options. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack at 24-bit/96kHz resolution has an engaging mix. This is a surround mix with discrete channel placement and separation. The auto-tuned vocals mesh well in the soundstage, sweet and clear. There isn’t much bass coming from the LFE channel. Lower frequencies are dispersed more uniformly through the front channels. The guitars are prominently given their “own” space, this is a wide mix that attempts to replicate the live experience.
I have my suspicions the audio was doctored a bit in the studio, to make it sound cleaner and more perfect for posterity. There is some compression baked into the dynamic range of the mastering; you will not need to turn your volume up. The music does have crystal-clear, pristine sound fidelity, almost too good for a live show. The included stereo PCM soundtrack at 24-bit/96kHz has a tighter soundstage than the surround mix, but I would still recommend the surround mix in this case. Both have excellent fidelity with holophonic imaging. The surround mix is more engaging of the two, the audience is situated much of the time in the rear channels when they do make their presence known.
The following optional subtitles (white font) are included: English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Japanese. Song lyrics are available in English.
A nice color booklet is included that features photographs and runs down the track listing. The featurette helps paint a decent portrait of Air Supply and the current band, if you were previously unaware of their history. It is obvious that Russell and Graham both enjoy playing in Hong Kong from the interview.
The Making of Live In Hong Kong (07:57 in HD) – Russell and Hitchcock discuss their passion for music in a sit-down interview. Other band members get interviewed, including how one of them was first picked for this gig. It’s an enjoyable, light piece on Air Supply and filming this concert.
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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.