John Mayer: Where The Light IsSony Music (Blu-ray)
Where The Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles captures the multi-Grammy Award-winning, Platinum-selling singer/songwriter in the element where fans love him the most: live on stage. This special concert includes three sets: an acoustic performance, a rare set with John Mayer Trio (John Mayer, Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino), as well as a set featuring Mayer's full band. Where The Light Is includes 22 songs and features a one-of-a-kind song list made up of the three distinct performances - all recorded the night of December 8th, 2007 at the NOKIA Theatre in Los Angeles.
I would call myself a casual fan of John Mayer. I have a few of his earlier CDs and I've always looked at him as a mainstream blues musician with some interesting pop hits. This concert definitely changed my opinion. Mayer delivers a really strong performance here with a great range of blues, pop, rock and almost big band flair. He really reminds me of Stevie Ray Vaughn both in vocals and guitar playing but with a more mainstream stay power. This concert does a great job with its three acts and shows Mayer’s range as a musician and performer. After this one I’ll be keeping a sharper eye on his future projects.
Rather than just shooting a one-night concert the filmmakers have given this one sort of a documentary feel. Rather than using one of the slick new digital cameras this concert was shot with 35mm cameras and it goes a long way in delivering that “film” look. The encode does a terrific job balancing the lighting and atmospheres but blacks look a bit too black at times and shadow details seem to be lost a bit. Detail is outstanding in close-ups and depth of image is fantastic but some of the longer shots are a bit softer than I would expect. I loved this approach to visual style though and enjoyed this even more than the recent, and excellent , release of Dave Matthews on Blu-ray, despite being a bit more reserved visually.
The audio on this release is truly second to none. Sony has hit a grand slam with the 96/24 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix on this one and delivers one of the best concert audio experiences I've heard to date. The 5.1 mix is a "stage" mix with the instruments and vocals dominating the front soundstage and the ambiance and crowd bringing in the surrounds. This does wonders for the sense of envelopment and atmosphere and gives the performance a very authentic feel. The recent Dave Matthews Blu-ray was incredible in detail and presence but lacks the overall dynamics that bringing a full band onto the stage can do. I was floored with the bass response, crisp highs and Mayer’s pitch perfect vocals. An incredible audio experience that I will be using for demonstrations for some time to come.
Extras are about average on this one despite the fact that Sony has taken advantage of both the “Bonus View” and BD-Live features of the Blu-ray format. For Bonus View you get a picture-in-picture alternate view during a track and you can pick which camera view you want along with the main video. For BD-Live you can download another track performance but the process took quite awhile on my PS3. Outside of this you have a short sequence of John behind the scenes talking a bit and some limited guitar play.
Honestly, I don’t care too much about the extras on this one. The concert is far better than I was expecting and the audio presentation alone makes this a must-buy for music fans. I REALLY hope Sony continues to bring concerts to Blu-ray of this quality. I was blown away with this one and couldn’t recommend it more.