Elton John’s Latest Live Release Is One In A “Million”

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Next Tuesday, July 1st, Eagle Rock Entertainment will release Elton John’s latest live recording, The Million Dollar Piano.  Eagle Rock Entertainment has long been the standard of success in live recordings from a variety of bands and artists.  And with this latest live recording, it remains once more the very standard by which other companies should base their live releases.  There is so much to appreciate in The Million Dollar Piano.  For starters, there is the show’s set list.  The show’s set list totals eighteen songs and nearly two hours in length.  Throughout the course of the performance, Elton John’s very performance makes the experience even more of a joy.  And making the performance whole is the concert’s combined audio and video mix.  All of these factors taken into consideration, Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano proves to be one more example of why Eagle Rock Entertainment is the leader in live recordings, and why Elton John remains one of the top entertainers in the music industry today.

Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano is such a joy of a concert first and foremost for the same reason that any other concert is enjoyable for audiences.  That reason is the near two-hour concert and its set list. Throughout the concert, John and his fellow musicians present to audiences eighteen fan favorite songs.   Among those fan favorites are the likes of: ‘Crocodile Rock,’ ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ ‘Rocket Man,’ ‘The Bitch Is Back,’ ‘Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) and even some perhaps lesser-known pieces, too.   If the songs included in the main concert’s set list aren’t enough for audiences, then the bonus live performance from Kiev is certain to make audiences happy.  That grouping of songs includes another take of ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’ as well as performances of ‘Sacrifice,’ ‘Sad Songs (Say So Much,’ and the stirring tribute to the late Princess Diana, ‘Candle in The Wind.’  This bonus mini-concert of sorts puts the recording’s concert run time well over two hours.  And it is two-plus hours of pure enjoyment for audiences of all ages, too.

The set list compiled both for this recording’s primary concert and its bonus “mini-concert” recorded in Kiev together make Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano more than worth the money, whether one purchases it on DVD or Blu-ray.  However, the set list would be nothing without a solid performance from John and his fellow musicians and performers.  Thankfully a strong performance is exactly what audiences get.  He and his fellow band members deliver a solid performance from start to finish. Whether it be in the more upbeat songs or even the deeper, more emotional moments, John and company carry the concert with ease.  The performance is made even more enjoyable as John shares little tidbits and jokes with the audiences between songs.  He tells the audience in attendance about how his pianos are named and points out how the piano he is using in the show actually visually tells the audience what song he is playing as he plays.  His story about how his pianos are named will have audiences watching at home laughing just as much as those that were in attendance as he pokes fun at fellow pop star Madonna.  He also shares some more thought provoking moments as he explains how different songs such as ‘Blue Eyes,’ ‘Indian Summer,’ ‘Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters’ came to life.  That willingness to joke with the audience and even share more personal stories builds a strong connection to audiences.  In turn, it makes his performance (and that of his band mates) even more enjoyable.  The on-stage presence of John and his band mates alongside the show’s set list together make this recording one that any fan of Elton John will definitely want to add to their personal library.  It still isn’t all that audiences will appreciate from this recording.  There is one more factor to examine from this concert that makes it a joy.  That factor is the concert’s collective audio and video mix.

The set list and overall performance by Elton John and his band mates more than make Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano a joy for audiences of all ages.  Even together, they would be nothing without the expert work of those behind the concert’s cameras and audio boards. The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace is an immense structure inside. Audiences will get to see its sheer size in watching this concert recording. And in doing so, will agree that it is anything but small. Taking that into account, those responsible for getting the best shots and keeping the audio levels evened out more than did their jobs. One of the best camera angles used throughout the concert is one that captures John right from keyboard level. Either there was a camera mounted on the piano or a videographer sitting just close enough to get that close up shot. Regardless of which is the case, the slightly angled shot mixed with a specific frame rate makes for a great shot. This is especially the case in some of the concert’s slower numbers. The wide shots are just as powerful in songs such as ‘Rocket Man,’ and ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me.’ That’s thanks in part to the video wall used behind the band. The combination of the two together makes such moments so powerful, emotionally speaking. Bigger, more bombastic numbers such as ‘Crocodile Rock’ and ‘The Bitch Is Back’ are equally complimented by the camera work in those numbers, too. The camera work on those numbers heightens their energy and in turn, makes them as enjoyable as any other moment throughout the concert.

The videography concert is a hugely important part of the extrinsic value to this concert recording. Much to the same level, the audio work is just as worthy of applause. Considering the sheer immensity of the Colosseum, it goes without saying that balancing the acoustics both for those in attendance and for those that will purchase this recording was extremely important. It looks to be almost the same size as England’s Albert Hall, if not perhaps slightly bigger. Those managing the concert’s audio levels both during and post-show are to be applauded just as much as those responsible for capturing the concert on video for their part in the final product. At no point in the concert does one performer overpower the other. It shows the expertise of those handling the concert’s audio duties. And thanks to such expert work, audiences can catch every single nuance of every song. Those with home theater systems will especially appreciate those painstaking efforts on the part of those at the audio boards. Such efforts, along with those of the camera crew and the performers, to entertain audiences have far more than paid off here. All things considered, Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano shows once more why Eagle Rock Entertainment remains the leader in live recordings and why Elton John remains to this day one of the top entertainers in the music industry.

Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano will be available next Tuesday, July 1st. It will be available both on DVD and Blu-ray. More information on the concert and Elton John’s current tour schedule is available now online at http://www.facebook.com/EltonJohn and http://www.eltonjohn.com. Audiences can also order the concert via John’s official website. More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt and http://www.ealge-rock.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock Releases Details Of New Elton John Live Recording

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Officials with Eagle Rock Entertainment announced Wednesday that the company will release a new live recording from Elton John this summer.

Eagle Rock Entertainment will release The Million Dollar Piano on Tuesday, July 1st. The concert will be released to Blu-ray and DVD. It was originally recorded over multiple nights in 2013 during Elton John’s residency at The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. The famed pianist’s show has been running since September 2011. The latest leg of stint spanned sixteen shows from March 29th to April 26th, 2014. The concerts are a key collective point in John’s decades-long business relationship with Yamaha pianos.

The primary song list on both the DVD and Blu-ray presentation includes nineteen of John’s greatest hits. Among those songs are the likes of: ‘Crocodile Rock’, ‘Rocket Man’, ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues’, ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, ‘Circle of Life’, ‘Blue Eyes’, ‘Bennie and the Jets’, ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’, ‘Philadelphia Freedom’, ‘I’m Still Standing’ and a number of others. Also included in the overall presentation are four songs that were recorded during a 2012 performance in Kiev. Those songs are: ‘Candle in the Wind’, ‘Sacrifice’, ‘Sad Songs (Say So Much)’, and ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.’ There is also a bonus documentary featurette included on both the DVD and Blu-ray titled “The Making of the Million Dollar Piano.”

The Million Dollar Piano won’t cost fans a million dollars. The Blu-ray will retail for SRP of $19.98. The DVD will retail for SRP of $14.98. More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eagle-rock.com, http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt, and http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews. Fans can keep up with all the latest news from Elton John online at http://www.eltonjohn.com, http://www.facebook.com/EltonJohn and http://twitter.com/eltonjohndotcom. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Band Perry Receives Two ACM Award Nominations

Photo Credit: Mickey Brown

Photo Credit: Mickey Brown

Good news for The Band Perry.  The superstar country music trio has been nominated for two ACM Awards.

The announcement was made this week that the band has been nominated for “Vocal Group of the Year” and “Music Video of the Year.”  The second of the nominations from the Academy of Country Music is for the video for the band’s #1 single, ‘Better Dig Two.’  That song was also the lead single from the band’s latest album, Pioneer.  This year marks the third consecutive year that The Band Perry has been nominated for “Vocal Group of the Year.”  It is the fourth consecutive year that the trio has received nominations from the Academy of Country Music.  The band’s biggest year to date was 2011.  It was that year that the band received five total ACM nominations.  It won the award that year for “New Artist of the Year.”

Reid Perry spoke on behalf of the band after the announcement.  He expressed the band’s excitement of being nominated again, and getting to come to Las Vegas again.  Las Vegas is the home of the ACM Awards, which will be broadcast on CBS April 6th on CBS.  “It’s such an honor to find out about our two ACM Award nominations,” he said.  “We love the theatrics that happen in Vegas, and remember, what happens in Vegas … gets broadcast on live TV.”

The announcement of the band’s latest nominations comes at a high time for the band as it is scheduled to perform live on Fox as part of the network’s Super Bowl pre-game party.  The band will perform alongside American Idol Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips.  Reid’s brother and fellow band mate Neil jokingly discussed the band’s anticipation of playing the pre-game show and being back in temperatures above zero.  “We’re all huge football fans, and there’s nothing more exciting than to be a part of football’s biggest day,” he said. “We’ve been up in Canada on our We Are Pioneers World Tour for the past month, so we’re just glad it will be above zero degrees in New York!”

The band won’t be slowing down any time soon after its performance this weekend on Fox.  That performance is just part of its ongoing North American tour in support of Pioneer.  It will be in Independence, MO next Thursday, February 6th.  The band also has a planned performance later this Spring in North Carolina.  It is scheduled to perform live in Cherokee, North Carolina on Friday, April 25th at the Harrah’s Cherokee.  The band’s latest schedule of performances is listed below.






Bangor, ME

Cross Insurance Center



Independence, MO

Independence Events Center


Brookings, SD

Swifter Center


Bemidji, MN

The Sanford Center


Grand Forks, ND

Ralph Englestad Arena


Dubuque, IA

Five Flags Center


Kearney, NE

Viareo Event Center


Rapid City, SD

Rushmore Plaza Civic Center


Billings, MT

Rimrock Auto Arena @MetraPark


Rockford, IL

BMO Harris Bank Center


Cape Girardeau, MO

Show Me Center


Corbin, KY

The Corbin Arena


Saginaw, MI

Dow Events Center


Green Bay, WI

Resch Center


Mankato, MN

Verizon Wireless Center



Duluth, MN

Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Arena


Cedar Rapids, IA

U.S. Cellular Center


Savannah, GA

Savannah Civic Center


West Palm Beach, FL

Cruzan Amphitheater – WIRK Rib Roundup


Plant City, FL

Florida Strawberry Festival


Dublin, IE

Country to Country 2014: O2 Dublin


London, UK

Country to Country 2014: O2


Melbourne, FL

Runaway Country: Wickham Park


Houston, TX

Rodeo Houston



Florence, AZ

Country Thunder USA


Cherokee, NC

Harrah’s Cherokee


Dothan, AL

Toad Lick Festival



Gardendale, TX

Texas Thunder


Virginia Beach, VA

Patriotic Festival



Dallas, TX

Gexa Energy Pavilion *


Dauphin, MB

Dauphin’s CountryFest



Cincinnati, OH

Buckle-Up Music Festival



Detroit Lake, MN

WE Fest



Phoenix, AZ

Ak-Chin Pavilion *


San Diego, CA

Sleep Train Amphitheater *


Sacramento, CA

Sleep Train Amphitheater *


Mountain View, CA

Shoreline Amphitheater *

* Blake Shelton Tour

More information on The Band Perry’s tour, album and latest news is available online at http://www.facebook.com/thebandperry and http://www.thebandperry.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Details Announced For 2014 Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival

Courtesy: Earshot Media

Courtesy: Earshot Media

The annual Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival returns to Las Vegas this year.  Now in its sixteenth year, the festival will be held Memorial Day Weekend, May 23rd – 26th.  This year’s festival will feature a three bands sharing headlining duties—NOFX, Cock Sparrer, and Descendants.  Also announced for this year’s festival are: Face to Face, Anti-Nowhere League, Angelic Upstarts, Leftover Crack, Off!, Good Riddance, Masked Intruder, and a whole bunch more.  The complete lineup of bands is listed below.  New additions to the festival lineup are in BOLD.

The lineup:

Anti-Nowhere League

Face To Face
The Adicts

Leftover Crack

Angelic Upstarts

The Dwarves

Good Riddance

Cerebral Ballzy


Peter & The Test Tube Babies

Masked Intruder

Devil’s Brigade

La Plebe

The Generators

Bad Cop/Bad Cop

Black Market Syndicate

Lost in Society


Rats in the Wall

The Objex

The Gashers

Plus more to be announced!

Three-day passes and VIP packages will be available beginning Saturday, February 1st at 1pm ET.  They can be purchased online at http://www.punkrockbowling.com.  Single-day passes will be go on sale beginning Saturday, February 22nd (if available).  The three-day festival passes will be available for a cost of $110.  They are only for the festival and do not include club shows.  VIP passes will be available for a cost of $275.

The Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival has become one of each year’s biggest festivals.  It includes a punk rock poker tournament, comedy shows, four nights of late-night club shows, a two-day bowling tournament, hotel pool parties and more.  More information on this year’s Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival is available online at http://www.punkrockbowling.com and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Punk-Rock-Bowling-And-Music-Festival/288077407910557.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock’s One Night Only Re-Issue A Must For Any Bee Gees Fan

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision’s newly re-issued presentation of Bee Gees: One Night Only is another impressive recording from the two companies.  It is an impressive tribute to the memory of both Andy and Maurice Gibbs.  Audiences will appreciate this re-issue, which comes nearly a decade after its original release.  That take on the classic concert was also released by Eagle Rock Entertainment.  This latest re-issue boasts more than thirty songs spanning the group’s four-decade long career together.  There are those that have come down on Eagle Rock for this re-issue for being little more than a standard definition recording on a Blu-ray disc, thus making it not so much a real Blu-ray presentation.  But there is a chance that the previous DVD release might now be out of print.  Keeping that in mind, the upconverted footage looks as good as any performance originally recorded in high definition.  It sounds just as good, too.  If one takes this and the recording’s factors (I.E. guest performers and set list), one will end up agreeing that One Night Only is just as impressive in its re-issue as it was in its original DVD release was back in 2003.

One Night Only was originally recorded in 1997, only months before the death of Andy Gibb, brother to Maurice, Robin, and Maurice.  It would be another eight years before Maurice would join his brother.  So seeing all four brothers on stage at the same time in what was the Bee Gees’ only live show of that year (and first U.S. show in nearly a decade) made the performance all the more special of an experience.  The guest vocals by not just Andy Gibbs, but also by guest star Celine Dion also add their own charm to the already enjoyable show even more enjoyable.  And that the group would offers its audience at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas a definitive career-spanning performance puts the performance over the top.  Thirty-plus songs that span four decades is incredible.  Not many bands or performers can say that they had been around as long as the Bee Gees at the time of this recording.  And still few can say that even today.  The only band that can boast such an accomplishment at this point is perhaps The Rolling Stones.

It’s easy to just say of One Night Only how impressive it is because it covers so much of the Bee Gees’ career at that point.  Going into even more depth, the brothers and their band kick things off with a bang of sorts in the upbeat ‘You Should Be Dancing.’  Whether one is new to the music of the Bee Gees or not, this song is sure to get any viewer up off of their living room or bedroom furniture and dancing right in time.  From there the group pulls things back for a bit with a handful of touching ballads in the form of ‘Alone’, ‘Massachusetts’, and ‘To Love Somebody.’  The band as a whole balances its more upbeat sound with more reserved pieces throughout the course of its near two and a half hour performance.  The emotion of the pieces performed proves to the more uninitiated that this musical family was about more than just disco.  It shows to newer audiences just how talented the group was.  Of course, those that are more familiar with the band’s sound already knew that.

The expertly balanced set list and the general performance of the Bee Gees in this now modern classic performance work together to make One Night Only an excellent addition to the home library of any Bee Gees fan.  In response to those that have criticized it for being just a standard def show upconverted onto Blu-ray, one must keep in mind that Eagle Rock’s previous release of One Night Only/The Real Story might be out of print at this point.  Knowing what is known today about the ability of Blu-ray players to upconvert DVDs in playing them, the overall presentation (both in terms of video and audio) is just as clear as it would have looked had it originally been recorded in high definition.  And those lucky enough to own surround sound systems will attest to this, too.  Would it have been interesting to see a show recorded in full HD?  Most certainly it would have.  But this recording is no less impressive in place of such a recording.  It is the final piece of the puzzle that makes this entire presentation whole and a must have for any fan of these legendary brothers.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eagle-rock.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

From Dust To Dreams A Concert Dream Come True

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Las Vegas is typically known by its nickname, “Sin City.”  The other “city that never sleeps” is dominated by gambling, girls, and much more.  Because of that reputation, few people would ever associate the famed city with a center for the performing arts.  But there is in fact a center for the performing and cultural arts in Las Vegas now in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.  Thanks to PBS, audiences that weren’t able to be in attendance at the celebration of the center’s opening can now re-live the concert event any time that they want.

from Dust to Dreams: Opening Night at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts chronicles the celebration held in honor of the center’s opening.  What can be said of this performance but it was an impressive show from a who’s who of the music and entertainment community.  Performers the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Mavis Staples, John Fogerty, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and more than can be named here took part in the two-hour long celebration of the arts coming to Las Vegas at long last.  Host of the Tonys and star of CBS’ How I Met Your Mother served as emcee of this presentation.  What’s interesting to note about his presence in this performance is how much different it was in comparison to what audiences have become accustomed to from the actor.  This isn’t a bad thing, either.  If anything, it only serves to heighten the enjoyment of the overall presentation.  Add in expertly mixed audio and video, and audiences get what is in retrospect one of the best live recordings of 2012.

The very first thing that can be noted of from Dust to Dreams is that it opens and closes in fine fashion.  The opening number performed by trumpet player Arturo Sandoval.  Sandoval’s performance was an outstanding opener for the two-hour event.  His control over his instrument shows the result of his years of training.  This is especially the case when he hits the final high note of his opening number.  Far too often, some overzealous performers hit high notes in songs, thinking they sound good.  But in reality the performers in question are blasting out the notes, resulting in a very harsh sound.  That wasn’t the case with Sandoval’s performance.  His performance got the energy flowing and set the bar for what was to come through the rest of the show’s performances.

The performances that follow that of Sandoval hold the bar quite well.  Whether the medley of songs from Man of La Mancha and West Side Story, the classic country of veteran artist Willie Nelson, or even the more rocking sounds of John Fogerty, this show spans the musical spectrum and will entertain audiences of all ages and musical tastes.  Adding to the enjoyment of the concert is the presence of emcee Neil Patrick Harris.  Yes, Harris was more subdued in his hosting duties here than as host of the Tonys.  But this was an entirely different event.  Even the performers had their time on stage limited as there were so many performers.  What’s more, Harris did offer his share of pretty funny jokes when he was on stage.  Audiences need to keep this in mind in considering his performance as emcee of this event.  In doing so, those same individuals will enjoy the laughs that Harris shares when he is on stage.

The performance of host Neil Patrick Harris and that of the show’s performers make from Dust to Dreams quite the enjoyable live recording.  One would be remiss though, to ignore the importance of the show’s audio and video mix.  Going back to the show’s opening number by Arturo Sandoval straight through to the show’s closing number, the audio and video have been expertly mixed.  There are some songs that absolutely soar throughout the course of this program.  And then there are other, more subtle pieces that were captured so well.  Whether one has a home surround sound theater or not, one can still experience so much.  Those that do have home theater systems will appreciate the performances even more.  That’s because the picture will look crystal clear on an HDTV and the sound will sound just as clear.  This is especially true for those with surround sound.  It is these aspects that make the overall presentation on this DVD so enjoyable.  In retrospect, it makes this collection of performances one of the best live recordings of 2012.  From Dust to Dreams is available now.  It can be ordered online direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=13233132&cp=&sr=1&kw=from+dust+to+dreams&origkw=from+Dust+to+Dreams&parentPage=search&searchId=1374600.

Fans of PBS and its programming can keep up with all of the latest news, releases and more from the network online at http://ww.facebook.com/pbs and at http://www.pbs.org.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Otherwise Releases New Lyric Video, Announces New Tour Info

Century Media band Otherwise has released the lyric video for its new song, ‘I Don’t Apologize (1000 Pictures).’  The video for the band’s new single sees the song’s lyrics set against a backdrop of old photo negatives burning with a sepia tone effect as front man Adrian Patrick sings, “No I don’t apologize/For taking back the life/That I deserve/It’s like we took a thousand pictures/Just to watch them burn.”  Thus audiences get the effect of negatives burning.  It’s quite the interesting video to watch from a band whose album is one of the year’s top general rock records.  Fans can check out the video online now at http://youtu.be/WuJxY94ali8.

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Along with its new video, the band has also announced that it will be touring in support of its album alongside Daughtry and 3 Doors Down.  The tour will kick off late next month.  Fans can check out the full tour lineup online at http://www.weareotherwise.com, http://www.facebook.com/otherwiseofficial, http://twitter.com/weareotherwise, and on the Century Media Records website, http://www.centurymedia.com

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.