Selena Live - The Last Concert
Image // Unrated // $24.99 // September 2, 2003
Review by Don Houston | posted September 6, 2003
Highly Recommended
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Movie: The Houston Livestock & Rodeo Show is one of the biggest such events in the world with a lot more going on than just a bunch of cowboys roping cows, riding horses, and other such acts traditionally associated with rodeos. Those who attend know that there are a lot of concerts held during this multi-week event with performers from a variety of different musical genres, including Country & Western, Urban, Pop, and Latino. Until recently, the show was held at the Houston Astrodome which is now being replaced by a new mega-million dollar sports stadium but the 64,000 seat Astrodome was considered "the big time" for many acts over the years. If you played it, you were a hot act, no questions asked. One concert that took place there was the fateful last concert of a young Latino performer, Selena. This Texas treasure was born and raised in various parts of the state; and took a long path to success by working up from whatever shows her dad could book to making a number of CD's that sold by the truck load. The dvd of that last concert is Selena Live: The Last Concert.

Selena came from modest roots, with her family scratching out a living in whatever way it could. Selena and her siblings formed a band when they were young, at the prodding of their dad who wanted to make sure they had an outlet for their creative side. The band was called Los Dinos and while Selena was the focus of the most attention, both her brother A.B. Quintanilla, and sister Suzette Quintanilla (who was sick and missed being in this concert), contributed to the success of the band. Joined by Selena's husband, Chris Perez, Ricky Vela, Joe Ojeda, Art Meza, Don Shelton, Freddie Correa, and Jay Martinez, this concert showed the band at it's best, entertaining a large crowd that adored them.

Selena was 23 years old at the time of the concert and a rising star who was poised to make it in mainstream pop. Unfortunately, the young gal met her untimely demise at the hands of a killer that had been the head of Selena's fan club and employee in Selena's store. Luckily, someone had the foresight to professionally record this concert, as it remains the best-documented place to see the singer at her best. The concert was by no means perfectly caught but there was a nice mix of close-ups, medium and long shots to give fans a taste of being there at the Astrodome on February 26, 1995. I didn't have the opportunity to see the concert live but I had crossed paths with the singer at a small club, Zazz, not far from where I lived at the time, a few years prior. She was a thoughtful, considerate young lady who deserved a much longer life than she got, bringing home the idea that you should appreciate what you have while you have it. I think she'd be happy with this presentation of the concert, despite its limitations. Here's the set list:

Disco Medley:
I Will Survive
Funky Town
Last Dance
The Hustle
On the Radio

Amor Prohibido
Baila Esta Cumbia
Tus Desprecios
Techno Cumbia
La Carcacha
No Me Queda Mas
Bidi Bidi Bom Bom
Si Una Vez
El Chico Del Apartamento 512
Ya Ves
Como la Flor

The dvd has nearly an hour of songs by the group and generally looked very good and sounded great. The acoustics of the Astrodome have never been a strong point of the venue so the fact that they got it sounding this good is as much a marvel of modern sound engineering than anything else (a neighbor swears the dvd sounds much better than the concert did from her 10th row seat, just left of center). Like all concert dvds, how highly you'd rate it depends on the performer as much as anything else but the technical aspects were solid enough to warrant my rating of Highly Recommended. The concert was very entertaining and one with a lot of replay value, for long-time fans and those interested in seeing what all the fuss was about. The dramatic version of the young singer's life, Selena, starring Jennifer "J-Lo" Lopez was pretty well done too (and some would argue her last decent acting job). Selena was killed on March 31, 1995 but she opened a lot of doors for a lot of people by virtue of her success. As I recall, Selena held the record for attendance at the rodeo which is no small feat considering the vast number of top rated acts that played the venue.

Picture: The picture was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame as originally shot. There was some grain and a bit of video noise during a few of the darker moments but the fleshtones were accurate and the overall picture was good. As noted above, some of the production values weren't perfect, with a variety of limited camera angles and such, but it was cleaned up really well from the footage aired on local television when the concert took place.

Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 (one with DTS and one without) and 2.0 stereo. The 5.1 tracks were much fuller and richer in terms of the bass and separation. I didn't notice any problems with the music or vocals. The behind the scenes feature had optional Spanish subtitles.

Extras: The main extra was the All Access: Selena feature from the biographical movie with Jennifer Lopez. It showed things such as the casting calls, the various performers discussing their roles, and a host of other aspects of the movie. There was also a short biography of Selena on the dvd and in a paper insert (both in English and Spanish).

Final Thoughts: Fans of good music and Selena alike will enjoy this one a lot. Captured is her stage presence and the strong voice that propelled this young icon to stardom. There was some editing to keep the flow going but most of the time, it's shown in its raw form without a lot of visual effects, which is perhaps the best way to go for such an important event. Make no mistake either, the passing of this young lady was a very important matter to her millions of fans and she was one of those rare role models who embraced life without the need to resort to drugs, drinking, or all the other excesses modern idols seem to need.

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