SDBlu-ray Review: Live At Knebworth

Live at Knebworth has been called "the best British rock concert of all time."
  |   Comments

On June 30, 1990, a who's who of British rock royalty gathered at the Knebworth House in Hertsfordshire, England for a concert benefitting Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy and The Brit School for the Performing Arts. The lineup, which was made up of prior recipients of the Nordoff-Robbins Silver Cleff award didn't disappoint. Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Robert Plant, Elton John, Phil Collins -- both solo and with Genesis -- Dire Straits, Tears for Fears, Cliff Richard & The Shadows and Status Quo made up the bill, making for a memorable day. The footage has been newly restored and is available on the new SDBlu-ray, Live At Knebworth.

Tears for Fears open the proceedings with the funk-oriented "Change." The band is in fine form both vocally and musically on the track. The band gets their biggest response from a spirited, up-tempo "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," with the massive crowd clapping in unison.

While Cliff Richard & the Shadows and Status Quo have never really been household names in the U.S., they have been fixtures in the UK for decades. Richard is represented by three songs, including his late-70s pop smash "We Don't Talk Anymore" while the Quo gets four, highlighted by their cover of John Fogerty's "Rockin' All Over The World."

Eric Clapton turns in killer performances of "Before You Accuse Me" and the up-tempo rocker "Tearin' Us Apart" before joining forces with Dire Straits and, later, Elton John. Clapton and Mark Knopfler form a formidable guitar duo, adding extra bite to the already potent "Money For Nothing" and Knopfler adds some country-inspired leads to John's "Sad Songs (Say So Much)." John's soulful "Sacrifice" is also a highlight, with John turning in a fine vocal on the track.

Robert Plant's set was a highly anticipated one with rumors of a reunion with his Led Zeppelin band mate Jimmy Page setting the tone. Page did join Plant for the raucous "Wearing & Tearing" as well as the timeless "Rock and Roll." This was solo Plant at arguably his most rocking and the performances, both with and without Page, do not disappoint.

Four McCartney tracks are included, with the funky "Coming Up" and a rollicking "Birthday" being the major highlights. McCartney had only recently resumed touring after a decade away from the stage. Sadly, his John Lennon medley from that night is not included. In fact, the one major beef against this collection is that, in spite of its three-hour running time, the disc omits several tracks from many of the artists.

Genesis and Pink Floyd round out the disc, with Genesis in particular turning in an interesting set. "Turn It On Again" becomes the vehicle for a medley of classic 1960s songs including "Reach Out (I'll Be There) and "In The Midnight Hour." This was the tale end of Phil Collins' period where he was seemingly everywhere and his performances, both solo and with Genesis, are fun ones. Pink Floyd's classic, "Run Like Hell," ends a memorable day on a memorable note.

The footage has been restored and looks great. It is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio and the original SD video has been upscaled to 1080i High Definition. Audio options include LPCM Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio.

It's a testament to the staying power of these artists that 25 years later, they are all still relevant and releasing new material. Whether Live at Knebworth is the "best British rock concert of all time" is, of course, a matter of personal preference, but with that lineup, it certainly makes a strong case for it. Well worth owning for fans of any of these artists.