Recorded at the Royal Albert Hall on September the 15th 1997 the benefit concert was in aid of the people of Montserrat who suffered after the eruption of the volcano on their island.
The concert features songs and performances (often with multiple star performers on each song) by Phil Collings, Mark Knopfler, Sting, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Arrow, Carl Perkins, Jimmy Buffett and many others. Ray Cooper also appears on percussion for a number of the songs.
Although the transfer rate sits at a lazy 4 to 6 MB/s for most of the concert the video quality is remarkably good. The stage is awash with blue, purple and red lighting at times but the performers, orchestra and huge choir are perfectly clear and the colours are as vibrant as they should be. My only complaint would be the few times that the camera cops one of the spotlights full on in the lens totally washing out the picture (see Hey Jude).
I would have liked to have seen a PCM stereo track on this disc (as is available on most other music discs I have seen) but the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is extremely well done with piercing highs and clean bass. The rear surrounds (like in many other concert style discs) are used primarily to give the ambience of being in the hall itself. With the reflected highs bouncing off the rear walls behind you and the applause of the crowd you get the feel of being in the crowd watching the concert.
One thing that may be of concern is that with my PC DVD-ROM the sound seemed to come and go as if the volume was being changed louder and softer. This did NOT happen with my home theatre system and I attributed it to my crap audio card in the PC but I have seen other (unconfirmed) reports of this mysterious audio problem on the net.
Again and as with many concert discs there aren't any extras at all. I think that a special on why the concert took place and the lyrics to the songs as subtitles would have been some good features to have.
Overall I'd have to say that this is an excellent disc and one that I could easily recommend that people buy. It contains some outstanding songs performed live by some equally outstanding performers.
Take for example Money for Nothing with Mark Knopfler on lead guitar and vocals, Sting on vocals, Phil Collins on drums and Eric Clapton on guitar; what more could you ask for. How about all of the stars on everything all together in Hey Jude and Kansas City!
These guys seem a lot more casual than they might at one of their own traditional concerts - they are all having fun and it really shows; the performance only seems the better for it.
You also seem to see a lot more of the inside of the Royal Albert hall itself (compared with other concerts held there) and it really does look like a fabulous place.
Recorded at The Royal Albert Hall in 1997, Music for Montserrat features the following tracks:
- Phil Collins: "Take Me Home" (with house band and Ray Cooper)
- Arrow & His Band: "Hot, Hot, Hot"
- Carl Perkins: "Blue Suede Shoes" (with house band)
- Jimmy Buffett: "Volcano" (with Ralph McDonald and Robbie Greenwich)
- Mark Knopfler: "Brothers In Arms" (with Guy Fletcher)
- Mark Knopfler: "Money For Nothing" (with Sting, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton and Ray Cooper)
- Sting: "Message In A Bottle" (with Ray Cooper, Dave Hartley, Ian Thomas, and Chris Lawrence)
- Sting: "Magic" (with Ray Cooper, Dave Hartley, Ian Thomas, and Chris Lawrence)
- Elton John: "Your Song"
- Elton John: "Live Like Horses"
- Elton John: "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me"
- Eric Clapton: "Broken Hearted"
- Eric Clapton: "Layla" (with Mark Knopfler)
- Eric Clapton: "Same Old Blues" (with Mark Knopfler, Phil Collins, Jools Holland, and Ray Cooper)
- Paul McCartney: "Yesterday"
- Paul McCartney: "Golden Slumbers" (with Phil Collins, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Ray Cooper, and George Martin)
- Paul McCartney: "Hey Jude" (with all artists)
- Paul McCartney: "Kansas City" (with all artists)
- Actors: Arrow, Jimmy Buffett, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Jools Holland
- Directors: Julia Knowles
- Format: AC-3, Color, DVD, NTSC, PAL
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Release Date: Tuesday, 02 February 1999
- Run Time: 120 minutes
- Mike & The Mechanics at Royal Albert Hall Review: Finely tuned show of career highlights
- Review: Phil Collins at the Royal Albert Hall
- Phil Collins returns to the stage for the first time after bad fall with huge plaster covering two-inch cut
- Phil Collins 'rushed to hospital' after fall, postpones two shows
- Watch: Phil Collins Playing Drums on "Money For Nothing" in 1997