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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Rock > TV > Chicago In Concert (Soundstage)

Soundstage Presents Chicago In Concert


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C     Concert: B-



Lately, any time I bring up the band Chicago, many people actually think I am alluding to the Musical or film of it, but the band that began as Chicago Transit Authority.  The band continues long after Peter Cetera left for an uneven solo career that never totally made sense.  This 2003 installment of the revived series Soundstage features the band in a 78 minutes long concert where they cover the following hits:


1)     Make Me Smile

2)     Colour My World

3)     Now More Than Ever

4)     If You Leave Me Now

5)     Dialogue

6)     Hard Habit To Break

7)     Saturday In The Park

8)     Beginnings

9)     Just You ‘N’ Me

10)  Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

11)  Feelin’ Stronger Everyday

12)  I’m A Man

13)  Hard To Say I’m Sorry

14)  Free

15)  25 Or 6 To 4 (original arrangement, not the mechanical self-remake)



Playing it safe, the entire playlist is of hits from their early years or their revival by producer David Foster, not of when Jason Scheff succeeded Cetera as one of the main lead singers.  That’s not a problem, but what is a problem is when Scheff and fellow lead singer Keith Howland (also taking on some of Cetera’s former vocals, but how they determine who covers what is a mystery) take on the older hits, they do some odd things to them.  I have heard both cover them in the past and they were doing fine, but suddenly, they are adding Mariah Carey-type rolls in their performances that make absolutely no sense!  This is the first time the band has made the mistake of trying to be contemporary at the expense of their integrity and it is awful. They did not do this in their 2002 A&E By Request concert, so what gives?  They can even still play their instruments well, but tampering with this is much more of a distraction than the absence of Cetera ever could be. The result is a concert of good performances, big mistakes and many missed opportunities.


The image is credited as 4 X 3 (1.33 X 1) full screen, yet the DVD case gleefully celebrates the fact that the show is shot on Hi(gh)-Definition video.  The problem, all current HD is 1.78 X 1 aka 16 X 9.  The result is we actually get a compromised reframing that is not anamorphic and looks like some lopsided version of 1.66 X 1, which defeats the whole purpose of shooting in HD to begin with.  That is unfortunate, but that’s what has been done here, so be forewarned.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is better than the Dolby 2.0 with Pro Logic surrounds, but would have been better had it been in DTS.  Like German TV’s Ohne Filter series, many installments of which have been reviewed elsewhere on this site, the new Soundstage does its best to boast state-of-the-art playback.  This combination is passable, but not everything it could or should have been.  Extras include bio/discography of the band, a “backstage pass” feature that shows how the new show is set up that is interactive, a stills gallery and a “meet the band”: segment that is fine for what it is.


For those who want the original band, there has not been much on the band to enjoy in new formats.  The 2001 Chicago – RAW DVD was the worst of the three DVD-Videos noted, while the second and fifth albums have been issued by Rhino Records as DVD-Audios.  Those versions of Chicago II and Chicago V are recommended of the ailing DVD-Audio format and if you have problems with the 5.1 mix on V, go for the two-channel.  So, if you are curious to see what went wrong, you can still pick up this Soundstage installment, but you might be better off with the multi-channel Chicago II.  Now, where are the rest of the original albums up to 17, and can anybody dig up a decent concert from the old days when Cetera was still with the band?



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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