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Image Entertainment presents
Willie Nelson—Live in Amsterdam (2000)

"On the road again/I can't wait to get on the road again/seeing things that I may never see again/I can't wait to get on the road again."
- Willie Nelson

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: August 06, 2001

Stars: Willie Nelson
Other Stars: Bobbie Nelson, Paul English, Billy English, Jackie King, Jody Payne, Mickey Raphael, Bee Spears
Director: Mariek de Maar

Manufacturer: Wamo
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (suitable for all audiences)
Run Time: 01h:48m:46s
Release Date: July 03, 2001
UPC: 014381058321
Genre: country


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- B+BA- D

DVD Review

Willie Nelson has the appearance of a grizzled veteran who's gone through his share of arduous, long tours and still thrives today. Within the intimate confines of the Paradiso Theatre in Amsterdam, his band features old-school musicians who don't seem to correlate with the idea of today's music icons. The most striking look comes from the white-bearded Nelson, with his long strands of pony-tailed hair flowing down each side of his face. Sporting his signature bandanna; a red, white, and blue guitar strap; worn black jeans; and a black t-shirt, this legend continues to draw fans from each subsequent generation of music listeners. Playing a beat-up guitar filled with signatures, he leads his band through an impressive 108-minute set of favorites and vintage country tunes.

Recorded on June 7, 2000 as the kick-off show of Nelson's European tour, this concert follows the broad spectrum of Nelson's career and talents. Although some of the songs are fairly slow and boring, the highlights of the show outweigh the dull moments. Through much of the concert, the crowd remains pretty subdued, although it's clear they're enjoying the music in their own way. In the final portion, however, they do come to life during such major hits as the knee-stomping On the Road Again and the slow, emotional Always on My Mindˇoriginally done by Elvis Presley. The production of this concert is pretty simple, with a few cameras aimed at the stage and tracking the audience. There's nothing too inventive about the presentation, although it does fail to distract from the band on the stage.

After a slow start to the show, it starts to pick up with Fast Train to Georgiaˇa Billy Joe Schaver song with a nice beat. This fun track presents the band at its best, with impressive vocal harmonies and well-done solos by pianist Bobbie Nelson and harmonica player Mickey Raphael. Next, they slow it down for Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, which speaks about lost loveˇa common theme in Nelson's songs. Georgia on My Mind incorporates a country take on this classic tune that differs significantly from the one included on Ray Charles in Concert. Although they differ in tone, both versions have a similar, nostalgic tenderness necessary for this piece. The harmonica adds a nice, emotional touch to Nelson's variation.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this concert is Nelson's ability to cover songs by a diverse collection of artists and still make them seem authentic and original. Although all of these tunes don't succeed, including a set of songs he penned for other artists (like Patsy Cline's Crazy and Ray Price's Night Life), he does play some excellent covers in the middle of the concert. After mowing through the country melody of Lefty Frizell's If You've Got the Money, I've Got the Time, the band plays two Hank Williams' numbersˇMy Bucket's Got a Hole in It and Jambalaya. The first one contains another series of nice solos, and the second tune gets the crowd clapping and having fun. This portion concludes with Walkin' the Floor Over You, a well-done Ernest Tubb classic. As the show moves on, Nelson and the band present some of his more recognizable past hits, including To All the Girls I've Loved Before, definitely not a personal favorite of mine. They conclude the regular set with Pancho and Leftyˇan emotional tribute to Thomas Van Zant.

At the normal time for the musicians to leave the stage and prepare for an encore, Nelson decides to forgo this sometimes-tedious act and stay out on stage for eight more enjoyable songs. The highlights of this final segment are definitely the slow love ditties like Angels Flying Too Close to the Ground, Always On My Mind, and I Never Cared For You. During these numbers, especially the first one, the sorrowful expression on Nelson's face reveals a man who still understands the heart of the lyrics and their origin. Finally, the band brings the house down with the upbeat fun of Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms. Immediately following the show, Nelson remains on stage while signing autographs, posing for pictures, and greeting devout fans in the audience. Even after countless years, this remarkable man still loves to make music and entertain his legions of fans.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Willie Nelson: Live in Amsterdam utilizes a full-frame format similar to many other concert DVD releases. While its picture is fairly basic and contains nothing spectacular, there are no defects or distractions during the feature. Shot on digital video, the production is clear and provides an easy, straightforward look at the concert. The presentation resembles a well-made home video, which adds to the intimacy of the show. Although pretty basic, this transfer provides a simple avenue for enjoying the music of Willie Nelson.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: There's nothing more frustrating than picking up a live DVD from a talented artist that lacks a digital audio track. That's why it's so refreshing to see the inclusion of both a 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer and a 5.1-channel DTS track on this disc. Both tracks present a lush, deep sound that carries the music right off the screen and into your living room. The DTS version gives a superior experience and allows for the recognition of each individual instrument within the sound field. Each transfer provides plenty of force and conveys the musical complexity in all its glory. This disc also contains a 2.0-channel Dolby Digital option that sounds fine but is missing the depth of its counterparts.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Music/Song Access with 30 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 0h:57m:35s

Extras Review: This is a concert-only disc, with no extra features of any kind. The menus do contain a brief video segment from On the Road Again, but the animation is fairly amateurish.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

I'm not a huge fan of Willie Nelson's music, but I cannot deny his considerable abilities as a singer and a guitarist. Willie Nelson: Live in Amsterdam contains an excellent audio transfer that allows this live concert to reach its greatest heights. Backed by a talented group of musicians, Nelson delivers a solid performance that is sure to please his fans and draw in some new ones.

 


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