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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Afterglow Live
Afterglow Live
Other // Unrated // November 23, 2004
List Price: $21.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Robert Spuhler | posted December 13, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The joy of having a devoted fan base is that, no matter what you do as a musician, you've got guaranteed sales. There are certain artists that can put out anything and it will go platinum.

Sarah McLachlan is one of those artists. Thanks to her breakthrough album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy and the groundbreaking Lilith Fair tours, she will never release product that won't sell.

Afterglow Live is not a bad release, by any stretch. But it's an example of an artist that can get away with, say, releasing a live DVD only one album after a previous disc. Since Mirrorball, McLachlan's last live concert DVD, she has released a grand total of 10 new songs. Having that kind of static library of material to work with, along with her meticulous planning of live performances, gives Afterglow Live a deja-vu vibe that's hard to shake.

The set list for Afterglow Live is as follows:

Fallen*
World on Fire*
Adia*
Hold On*
Perfect Girl*
Drifting
Push*
I Will Remember You*
Ice
Wait
Witness*
Answer*
Angel*
Fear
Train Wreck*
Building a Mystery*
Sweet Surrender*
Possession
Blackbird
Ice Cream
Stupid*
Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Dirty Little Secret*

(NOTE: Songs marked with an asterisk are also included on a bonus CD.)

It's remarkable how little a Sarah McLachlan concert has changed in four years. Of the 23 tracks on Afterglow Live, 13 appeared on Mirrorball; the other 10 are composed of 9 songs from Afterglow (no "Time") and one cover ("Blackbird" by the Beatles). The first song at both concerts is the lead single from the current album ("Building a Mystery" on Mirrorball, "Fallen" on Afterglow Live, the first set concludes with "Possession," and the second set ends with "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy," during which McLachlan leaves as the band plays on in order to prepare for the one-song second encore, a ballad from the current album ("Angel" or "Dirty Little Secret," depending on if it's now or then). McLachlan's inflection and performance of her older classics has barely changed; with the exception of the piano ballad version of the first verse of "Possession" and a schmaltzy, embarrassing version of "You Are My Sunshine" before "Hold On," the overlapping tracks on the two DVDs are indistinguishable.

The saddest part of the track list is that McLachlan turns her back on her first two albums. Nothing from Solace or Touch makes the cut here, so long-time fans who knew about her before Lilith Fair won't find any old favorites.

The good news is that many of the songs on the new album translate very well to the stage. "Train Wreck" and "Stupid" in particular look like they will be concert favorites for a long time.

The DVD

Video:

The anamorphic widescreen video presentation of Afterglow Live has some serious digital transfer and source problems. The picture is quite often soft, to the point of being out of focus, while the quick cuts create brief artifacts on several occasions. The colors come across well, especially on the elaborate backdrop.

Audio:

The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is completely involving, with the back speakers focusing a lot of crowd noise, along with the guitar mix. The sound likely didn't sound this good from most spots at the concert itself.

Extras:

Three music videos are provided for McLachlan's singles from Afterglow, including the amusing-if-pretentious "World on Fire." In addition, there is an extended interview with McLachlan about getting ready to go back on tour after her maternity absence. It's much more interesting than the usual promotional blather.

Final Thoughts:

The decision as to whether or not to buy Afterglow Live almost exclusively rests on how much the individual likes Afterglow. Which is better, "Fallen" or "Path of Thorns"? "Stupid" or "Into the Fire"? "World on Fire" or "Mary"? I prefer the older material, so I prefer Mirrorball. But for those who enjoy McLachlan's latest material more, Afterglow Live is an excellent presentation.

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