Melody Gardot is one of the most well-kept secrets in the music industry, today. The Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter and musician has been making music since the tender age of nine. She released her first record—Some Lessons: The Bedroom Sessions EP—at only 20 years-old. Only three years later in 2008, Gardot went on to release her debut full-length studio recording Worrisome Heart via Verve Records. Three more albums—each also released via Verve Records–would follow over the course of the next seven years, the most recent being 2015’s Currency of Man. And earlier this month she partnered with Eagle Rock Entertainment to release her first-ever live recording Live at the Olympia Paris. It is a good effort for being her first full-length live recording. That is due in part to the concert’s set list. This will be discussed shortly. Gardot’s stage presence and that of her fellow musicians is just as important to note in examining what makes the recording as enjoyable as it is. Last but hardly least of note in this recording is its production values. They round out the concert’s most notable elements. Together with those elements, all three elements join together to make Live at the Olympia Paris not just a good first full-length live effort from Melody Gardot, but an equally impressive first live recording from the songstress. What’s more it proves once again why Eagle Rock Entertainment is still today the leading name in live recordings.
Live at the Olympia Paris is a good first full live effort from Melody Gardot. It is not perfect by any means. But it is still a good effort from the Philadelphia-based artist. That is due in part to the concert’s set list. It is clear that the set list, which pulls liberally from her most recent album—2015’s Currency of Man—and slightly from her 2009 album—My One And Only Thrill–was very deliberately and thoughtfully planned out. That is evident in examining not just the set list’s featured songs but especially here their sequencing. It would have been so easy for Gardot and company to just assemble a handful of songs from all four of her current albums and all three of her current EPs. And it honestly would have been nice to have seen those records represented here, too. That is especially the case for those that are not so familiar with Gardot and her music. But in watching closely viewers will note that the energy flowing through the set list seamlessly ties the concert together. It is possible in considering this that Gardot and company did consider using other songs, too. However, one has to assume in experiencing the concert for one’s self, that all involved felt that this set list flowed together better than any other considered set list. That would actually account for the show’s set list being so light. So keeping this in mind, while the set list may not be the best representation of Gardot’s full body of work, audiences must agree that it is a set list that effectively entertains and keeps audiences at home just as engaged as those that were there in attendance at the October 2015 show’s recording. Now having tackled that issue, the concert’s set list is just one part of the recording that makes it work as well as it does. Gardot’s stage presence, and that of her fellow musicians, is just as important to note here as the show’s set list.
The set list that is featured in Melody Gardot’s new live recording is important to the recording. That is because despite not necessarily being career-spanning it is a fluid set that will keep home viewers just as entertained and engaged as those that were in attendance at the concert’s recording late last year. It is just one of the recording’s most important elements. Gardot’s stage presence, and that of her fellow musicians, is just as important to note as the show’s set list. Gardot’s stage presence throughout the course of the hour and forty-two minute concert is truly impressive. Her performance and her interactions with the audience are noticeably reserved from beginning to end. That’s not to say she was nervous or even introverted. Rather, she takes in the whole experience. Yet in doing so, there is a certain element of humility—for lack of better wording here—in her presence. She gives each song her whole, as do her fellow musicians. But by comparison she is so gentle and subtle from beginning to end. Even in her interactions with the audience, she goes to the edge of the stage, kneels down to put herself at the audience’s level, and almost whispers to the audience as she talks to them. On a related note, it’s clear that she is fluent in French. She doesn’t just use one or two words here and there unlike so many other artists when they perform outside the U.S. Instead, she offers up a whole discussion on Charles Mingus in French and even holds whole conversations with the audience in French. As subtle as it is, this plays hugely into her stage presence. It’s one of those things that shows that she really connected with her audience. On the same note (no pun intended), Gardot’s fellow musicians are the polar opposite. Saxophonist Irwin Hall shows so much range from one song to the next and just as much talent. His softer moments are just as powerful as those moments when he lets loose and blows the proverbial roof off of the house. His ability to handle two saxophones at the same time is just as notable. That will blow both classically trained musicians and those that are more along the novice end of that spectrum. Drummer Chuck Staab is just as impressive in his intensity. He remains so focused throughout the concert. That is visible every time that the cameras go to him. But it’s a good thing to see. He never over thinks anything at any point. The result is a foundation that is just as solid as any of the other parts in any of the set’s other songs. There is so much more that could be said of the band’s stage presence in this concert. Suffice it to say that from one musician to the next, the whole of the group’s stage presence here proves to be just as entertaining and engaging as the show’s set list. As a matter of fact, the band members’ stage presence is what makes the energy flow so fluidly throughout the set, showing again why despite being such a light offering, the set list is still an important part of the concert’s overall presentation. Having discussed all of this, there is still one more element to examine. That element is the concert’s collective production values.
The set list presented in Live at the Olympia Paris and the band’s performance of said set list are both key in making this recording both entertaining and engaging. The set list was obviously very meticulously assembled. The band’s performance of the set list helped to keep the show flowing fluidly from beginning to end, thus ensuring audiences’ engagement and entertainment. As important as both elements are to the concert, the concert’s production values cannot be ignored in examining its overall presentation. This includes not just the work done at the concert but the work put into post production, too. As noted already, some of the shots captured during the concert present a very focused Chuck Staab. Staab’s mind is completely set on the songs and getting them right. Those shots are so impacting. And when Gardot sits at her piano, discussing perhaps music theory (?) with the audience, the angle of the shots coupled with the soft light has an effect that simply can’t be put into words. It is something that has to be seen in order to be fully appreciated. On yet another angle, the energy of the camera work in the set’s more up-tempo numbers expertly captures that energy and translates it perfectly to home viewers. That is especially the case in those moments when [Irwin] Allen lets loose and absolutely wails on his sax. Between these moments and those not noted here, it can be said that the work of the concert’s camera crew and director is well deserving of its share of praise. Those responsible for the concert’s audio are just as deserving of applause as the concert’s camera crew. The Olympia is clearly a very open venue. That allows plenty of room for the sound to echo throughout the hall. Yet those behind the boards handled their duties just as expertly as the camera crew. Thanks to those that edited the final product put the finishing touch on the whole thing. The end result is a concert that looks and sounds just as good on DVD and Blu-ray as it must have in person, if not better. This critic will attest to the fact that while the final product sounds good on a standard HD monitor, the production crew’s work honestly results in yet another concert that would be best experienced on a full surround sound theater system. That is not to say, again, that it doesn’t sound good on a standard monitor. It is just one of those recordings that offers the optimum experience in terms of its video and sound on a home theater system. That is a testament to the work of all involved. Their work, when set against the band’s performance, and the show’s set list, rounds out the concert’s overall presentation. It works with the band’s performance and the show’s set list to make the recording a relatively good first full-length live recording from Melody Gardot and more proof of why Eagle Rock Entertainment still stands today as the leader in live recordings.
Live at the Olympia Paris is a solid first full-length live recording from Melody Gardot. It is also another recording exhibiting exactly why Eagle Rock Entertainment still stands today as the leading name in live recordings. This is due in part to the concert’s fluid (albeit short) set list. It is a set list whose energy is expertly balanced from beginning to end. In turn it is certain to keep home viewers just as entertained and engaged as those that were in attendance at the concert’s recording. The band’s performance of the set list is just as important in keeping audiences engaged and entertained. Thanks to their work, the band translates the fluidity of the set’s energy with just as much expertise as was used in assembling the set list. It keeps audiences just as engaged and entertained as the set list itself. The end result of the production crew’s work in recording the concert rounds out the recording’s presentation. Their work results in a concert experience that is just as good as being there if not better. All things considered, Live at the Olympia Paris proves in the end to be a good first live effort from Melody Gardot. It proves just as much to be yet another example of why Eagle Rock Entertainment still stands today as the leading name in live recordings. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:
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