Lenny Kravitz – Just Let Go Live, Blu-ray (2015)

Lenny Kravitz  – Just Let Go Live, Blu-ray (2015)

Cast: Lenny Kravitz; Craig Ross – guitar; Gail Ann Dorsey – bass; Cindy Blackman Santana – drums; George Laks – keyboards; Harold Todd – saxophone; Ludovic Louie – trumpet; Michael Sherman – saxophone; Erika Jerry – backup vocals; Yahzarah St. James – backup vocals; Jessica Wagner-Cowan – backup vocals.
Studio: Eagle Vision EVB335189 10]23]2015
Director: Paul Dugdale
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; LPCM 2.0 Stereo
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9, 1080i HD color
Length: 166 minutes
TrackList: Fly Away; Dirty White Boots; Dancin’ ‘Till Dawn; Strut; It Ain’t Over ‘Till It’s Over; New York City; The Chamber; Sister; Dig In; Let Love Rule; Ain’t You Gonna Go My Way; Bonus Tracks: Sister; Always On The Run; Sex I Belong To You; New York City; Let Love Rule
Ratings: Audio: ***1/2    Video: ***1/2      Overall: ****

Lenny Kravitz is a musician who draws from a wide variety of influences. He grew up listening to r & b, especially Motown and Stax. After attending Beverly Hills High School, he decided that being a musician was his destiny. Getting his career started was not that easy. His debut album, Let Love Rule, both interested and befuddled critics. The retro r & b/sixties hybrid was fresh, but that didn’t make him a star. That would be rectified shortly. Kravitz, who was a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, embraced digital production and sampling. As his musical format expanded, so did his songwriting and recording. Hits (“Are You Gonna Go My Way”, “Rock And Roll Is Dead”, “Fly Away”, “American Woman”, “Again” And “Dig In”) started coming, and so did the recognition. Kravitz won an unprecedented four consecutive Grammys (1999-2002) for Outstanding Rock Performance. He has maintained his headliner status and has delved into film work as an actor, appearing in The Hunger Games, Precious, and The Butler.

Eagle Rock has released a Blu-ray consisting of complete live performances from Kravitz’s 2014 European tour. Included in the documentary are interviews with the band, rehearsal footage and some behind the scene observations of the tour. Fronting a large, talented band (he is backed by ten other players), Kravitz lets his rock star persona envelop the crowds. After a brief backstage scene, Kravitz launches into “Fly Away” one of his “rock ‘n’ soul” hits. The band is powerful and well-rehearsed. The film alternates interviews with Kravitz (on a New York City rooftop) and bandmates with concert performances. He can do hard funk “Dirty White Boots” and gritty rock (“American Woman”) with conviction. He is a consummate front man with overt sexuality on cuts like “Dancin’ ‘Til Dawn” and “Strut”.

Kravitz has been successful as a songwriter who combines pop, rock and soul. “It Ain’t Over ‘Till It’s Over” is old school r & b with a catchy falsetto-laced vocal. On “New York City” (which is preceded by a passing shot of the late Allen Toussaint), he demonstrates a street-tough funk. He is in total control of this band and there are some behind-the-scenes rehearsal snippets that show his intensity in this arena. The most interesting anecdote is about a conversation between Kravitz and his opening act, Robert Plant (Times have changed!). Then the band shows off its hard rock chops on “Dig In”.  A big act always finishes big. Kravitz delivers on “Let Love Rile” and “Are You Gonna Go My Way” with crashing, propulsive dynamism.

The video quality is very good. The film looks like it was shot in 16mm, then transferred digitally. There is some lack of precision on the concert footage, but the lighting is excellent. Interviews seem to have a sharper focus. Both the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and PCM 2.0 mixes are vibrant and capture the power of Kravitz and the band. There is some denseness and minor details (backup singers) are not emphasized. But this is a bravura performance film on Blu-ray !

–Robbie Gerson

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