For a while now, Eagle Rock has been releasing a series of live performances from the Montreux Jazz Festival. Of course, the name is a bit misleading, as, at this point, most of the acts have very little in common with jazz. The latest group to get a release is U.K. dance phenomenon Jamiroquai. Having reviewed a few of these titles now, and seen more in addition, I think I've finally pinned down the problem I have with the series.
Jamiroquai has been a hit since their first release in the early 90's. Wielding a brand of Stevie Wonder-inspired dance pop, the troupe also became known for their lively concerts, which featured lead singer Jason Kay in bizarre, Native American style head dresses. Watching their performance on this disc, it finally occurred to me why I've never been blown away by the "Live at Montreux" series: They manage to suck out all the fun of seeing your favorite bands. Don't ask me what it is, but each one that I've seen (for all kinds of varied bands), has never managed to capture the excitement of seeing them live.
Now, it's not fair to condemn only the Montreux series for this failing. It's really difficult to recapture the feeling one gets as an expectant audience member, seeing one of your favorite bands give a spellbinding performance. On the other hand, the Montreux discs are cut and directed in such a bland and uninspired way that they manage to turn even the best live performers into yawn-inducing experiences.
Jamiroquai seems to suffer doubly from this, as their music is best experienced directly, either through headphones on the album or in a live setting. Jason Kay's on-stage antics and crazy garb just seem silly in this video. It doesn't help that at a certain point, all the songs start to sound the same. I couldn't tell the difference between the songs where Kay urges the audience to dance and the ones where he actually has something meaningful to say. It all blended together into a boring mish-mash. It would be hard to recommend this title, even for fans of the band.
The track list is as follows:
"Use The Force"
"Blow Your Mind"
"Traveling Without Moving"
"Shoot The Moon"
"Just Another Story"
Eagle Rock Entertainment presents Jamiroquai: Live at Montreux in a 1.77:1 aspect ratio, enhanced for widescreen TVs. The image isn't anything spectacular. I noticed artifacting and other compression issues at various points, and the image generally looks flat.
Eagle Rock Entertainment offers three audio mixes for the disc: A 5.1 DTS mix, a 5.1 Dolby Digital Mix, and a 2.0 Dolby Digital track. As I've found with other "Live at Montreux" discs, the mix isn't particularly strong. It mostly sounds like the front channels are being echoed on the back surrounds, without true channel separation. The DTS mix is louder than the Dolby Digital, but other than that, I didn't notice much difference.
The only extra included is a 1995 performance of "Cosmic Girl."
Watching this disc finally made me realize the problem with the "Live at Montreux" series: They're utterly bland, even if you like the musicians being featured. Jamiroquai fares no better than the rest, with a boring set that becomes monotonous early on. Not worth your time. Skip It.
Daniel Hirshleifer is the High Definition Editor for DVD Talk.