Jason Aldean – Wide Open Live & More!, Blu-ray (2009)
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment EVBRD 33339-9
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 color, 1080i HD
Audio: English DTS Master Audio 5.1, Dolby 5.1, PCM Stereo
Extras: Interview, Bonus concert footage
Feature Length: 86 minutes
When it comes to country music, I have to admit the truth – almost all of the current crop of offerings from Nashville are pretty much completely off my radar. Other than the almost inescapable song being belted out across the airwaves from Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood, I just don’t listen to much mainstream country music – my minimal country leanings are more focused toward traditionally-based country and blue- or new-grass. So when this new concert Blu-ray disc from Jason Aldean showed up I really had no idea who he was. A quick trip to the Internet showed that he is indeed one of country’s rising stars, with a couple of number one hits on the country charts and a growing fan base, he also was awarded the “Top New Male Vocalist” award by the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2006. And both of his albums have gone platinum. But from the opening number, “Wide Open,” it became obvious that Jason Aldean is not your typical traditional country artist.
Including Jason Aldean on guitar, his band is comprised of four guitars total, along with bass and drums – these guys can really pound it out! The drummer looks like he’d be much more at home in some kind of metal band, and Jason Aldean delivered the songs with hardly a twang – and the crowd in Knoxville’s packed coliseum went absolutely wild! Of course, there are plenty of country-tinged songs like “Amarillo Sky,” “Big Green Tractor” and “She’s Country” (a really clever tune which I happened to recognize, just never knew Aldean was the artist), but overall, this group really rocked through a lively hour-and-a-half set. His appeal is quite obvious – the crowd’s over-enthusiastic reaction was clear evidence of that, and it’s probably only a matter of time before he enjoys the kind of crossover success in the pop arena that other country artists (like Taylor Swift) are currently cultivating.
In terms of the Blu-ray’s technical performance, this is a generally rock-solid offering from Eagle Rock. The image quality is really quite good for a live concert film, with superb color representation, deep blacks and excellent contrast. Some of the shots, however, seemed a little hazy and lacking in ultimate clarity, and that’s the only thing keeping this one from getting four stars for image quality. It’s a fairly minor nuisance, and probably due in no small part to the constantly shifting stage lighting, but it does keep the overall image from seeming quite as potently high definition as most of the previous offerings from Eagle Rock. The sound presentation more than makes up for the slight shortcomings on the video side; the DTS HD Master Audio track is lively and dynamic, and really offered an impressively immersive concert experience. Bonus features included additional concert footage, along with a nice interview segment with Jason Aldean and the band members, and they offer interesting insights into life on the road with an up-and-coming artist.
While it’d be a real stretch to say that Jason Aldean has made a new convert out of me, I’d be totally lying to deny that I really did enjoy this excellent concert Blu-ray. He’s a talent to be reckoned with, and I fully expect we’ll hear much more from him in the near future. Highly recommended!
TrackList: Wide Open; I Break Everything I Touch; Amarillo Sky; Why; Big Green Tractor; On My Highway; Drum Solo; Johnny Cash; Relentless; You’re The Love I Wanna Be In; Laughed Until We Cried; I Use What I Got; She’s Country; Asphalt Cowboy; Hicktown; I Won’t Back Down. – Tom Gibbs