February 15, 2012

Live At The Royal Albert Hall, Adele.

The Blu-ray/DVD plus CD package.

As the world mourns at the loss of "The Voice" diva Whitney Houston, let us dissect a little more in to the music of Adele. The top two female artist today includes of Lady Gaga and Adele of course. Both equally talented, but decides to "package" themselves to their fans differently. Lady Gaga goes for broke on the commercial front, hiding her enormous talent behind lots of fashion misrepresentation(if wearing next to nothing at all is considered fashion, that is) and hideous mask. I only wish she was more confident and step out of her "package", and let the world hear her true voice, which I find holds a lot of potential for greatness.

We then come to Adele, who sells her music as soulful pop for the thinking man with impeccable taste! In most ways, she succeeds. Her talent is bared for all to listen and her sucess is no small feat, considering that she is not as "packaged" to market as Lady Gaga. Adele remains pretty much true to herself on this concert, Live At The Royal Albert Hall, which is much like her music videos, pretty static, with minimal movement. While her great voice accompanied by a band of high standards should ensure a successful concert somewhat, I did find the lack of movement, or audience interaction to be a flat, i.e. dull affair.

However, if you care to believe me, the real value of the Blu-ray or DVD plus CD package is in the 16 bit CD recording of the concert! I had the CD ripped in to my PC for playback on the Bryston BDP-1 and found it high rewarding. The first couple of songs were rather dull, as with most concerts do take time to build up, but by the fifth song, tittled Set Fire To The Rain, one of Adele's chart hits, something had happened. Perhaps I had warmed up to the concert by now? I don't know, but Adele was smoking hot and her backing band was on fire! The seventh track, Take It All, a piano accompanied solo is rather touching, as I could feel the emotion in her voice reaching out to me. Adele's re-make of George Micheal's hit, I Can't Make You Love Me had me all mushy and feeling like a softie all over. It's music I could emotional relate to and re-live with a different kinda hurt, that's so pure. I felt like this was the peak of the CD performance, before she moved on to her top hits like Someone Like You and Rolling In The Deep to round up the concert. Adele eventually warmed up to the crowd enough to interact with them in the last two songs. However, I found that she shined the brightest when just singing strip downed, I mean just accompanied by a piano. Ha! Ha! What else did you think?

As this is a hifi blog, sound quality of the recording is a concern, which I found it to suffer from the "Loudness War" syndrome. As the name say's it all, it's LOUD! I found the volume too loud at my usual listening volume setting at the pre amp. With the loudness comes the compression effects as well. Adele's vocals were project up front, in between the plain of two speakers, not much space or "Albert Hall's" royal ambiance was capture here either. Kick drums lack the dynamic edge or definition as per expected with "Live" recordings. Only the occasional double bass, and piano is well captured slightly behind Adele, which is perhaps why, I like the piano only accompanied tracks most.

Despite the clearly digital, compressed recording qualities, I still find the CD performance to be like able enough to recommend here on these pages. Adele had just announced her intention to take a long rest from the music business after a near clean sweep at this year's Grammys. Like her or not, I think she is here to stay.

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