Eagle Rock Entertainment has released a Blu-ray of a 1990 benefit concert titled Live At Knebworth. The event was filmed at the Knebworth House in Hertsfordshire for the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy and The Brit School For Performing Arts. Billed as "The Best British Concert Of All Time" (how official are these rankings?), the performers include upper-echelon rock stars who have been recipients of the Nordoff-Robbins Silver Clef Award. From the beginning, it is apparent that the all-star collection of bands brought their "A" game to Knebworth. Tears For Fears kicks thing off with a three-song set with an expanded musical lineup. The group shines on the funky, soulful "Badman’s Song". They deliver their mega-hit "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" to a receptive audience. Veteran rocker Cliff Richards injects some vintage rock and roll in his set. Phil Collins ascends to his elevated pop status. The moody strains of "In The Air Tonight" is complemented by a staged move to the drum kit. "Sussudio" delivers the funk, with a great brass section.
And the legends keep coming. Paul McCartney knocks out three Beatle songs ("Birthday", "Hey Jude" and "Can’t Buy Me Love") reminding everyone that The Fab Four cut their teeth as a bona fide live act. Then, a very good concert elevates to a great one. Eric Clapton performs two scintillating blues numbers, "Before You Accuse Me" and "Tearin’ Us Apart". His band (augmented with singers, keyboards and second guitar) is stellar. His vocals are strong, as is his customary solos. He introduces Dire Straits and performs with them. Watching Knopfler and Clapton trade licks (Knopfler without a pick, Clapton with one) on "Solid Rock" is why fans attend concerts.
The MTV-defining "Money For Nothing" is terrific, despite the "cleaned up" lyrics in the second verse. Clapton and Knopfler actually stay onstage for Elton John’s two-song set. "Sacrifice" displays the vocal prowess of an eminent rock singer. Elton executes some gospel piano licks on "Sad Songs (Say So Much)". Robert Plant injects some heavy metal attitude with his band (especially on "Tall Cool One") and brings Led Zeppelin icon Jimmy Page on for two numbers. Watching them rip through "Wearing And Tearing" and the inimitable "Rock And Roll" puts the crowd into a frenzy. In the spirit of reunion, Genesis does an extended group of songs and a medley. Tony Banks’ eerie keyboards and Mike Rutherford’s fluid guitar showcase the post-Gabriel accessibility of this hit-producing band.
It seems impossible to contemplate a grand finish to Live At Knebworth, but that’s exactly what Pink Floyd is! After sunset, their artistic power and state-of-the-art sound system is awe inspiring. Even without Roger Waters (one of the concert’s minor blemishes), they resonate. As Richard Wright lays down the spacey intro to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", David Gilmour comes in with his sonically-enhanced guitar. With a quadruple female backup chorus and saxophone, the textual fullness of Pink Floyd is realized. Together with their spectacular light show, it’s unlikely any performer would want to follow this. The pyrotechnics (musical and stage) continue on "Run Like Hell". Big show…big finish!
This concert is in standard format. In 1080i hi-resolution, it is compelling. The DTS-Master Audio 5.1 mix is excellent. Video footage, while enhanced in HD, is ordinary. There is a booklet (with very small print) detailing the charities and the concert. It may be 25 years old, but Live At Knebworth is a great concert film.
Tears For Fears: 1) Change 2) Badman s Song 3) Everybody Wants To Rule The World /
Cliff Richard & The Shadows: 4) On The Beach 5) Good Golly Miss Molly 6) We Don t Talk Anymore /
Phil Collins & The Serious Band: 7) In The Air Tonight 8) Sussudio /
Paul McCartney: 9) Coming Up 10) Birthday 11) Hey Jude 12) Can t Buy Me Love /
Status Quo: 13) Whatever You Want 14) Rockin All Over The World 15) Dirty Water 16) In The Army Now /
Eric Clapton: 17) Before You Accuse Me 18) Tearin Us Apart /
Dire Straits: 19) Solid Rock 20) Think I Love You Too Much 21) Money For Nothing /
Elton John: 22) Sacrifice 23) Sad Songs (Say So Much) /
Robert Plant: 24) Hurting Kind 25) Tall Cool One 26) Wearing And Tearing (with Jimmy Page) 27) Rock And Roll (with Jimmy Page) /
Genesis: 28) Mama 29) Throwing It All Away 30) Turn It On Again Medley: Turn It On Again / Somebody To Love / Reach Out, I ll Be There / Pinball Wizard / In The Midnight Hour / Turn It On Again (reprise) /
Pink Floyd: 31) Shine On You Crazy Diamond 32) Run Like Hell
© Audiophile Audition, by Robbie Gerson