Thursday, May 31, 2012

DVD Review: Diana Ross Live in Central Park




Release Date: May 15, 2012 Rating: NR Running Time: 160 Minutes

On July 21, 1983, the legendary Diana Ross took the stage in New York's Central Park before an audience of over 800,000. Soon after the show began, pouring rain and heavy wind threatened to put an end to the show, but Diana pushed on for much of the set, urging the drenched crowd to remain calm and stay with her. Eventually the torrential storm put an end to the performance, but not before Diana promised her fans she would return the next day. True to her word, Diana performed the entire concert again on July 22nd for the people of New York. Initially broadcast live around the world, this renowned concert remained largely unseen for 30 years, and has never been released on DVD until now.

Often times, I find that saying I am a fan of Diana Ross is silly since I am only familiar with her singles. There's so much more to her catalogue that I do not know. And I wasn't even born when she has the most memorable concert of her career in Central Park back in 1983. But this concert was a great place to start before I dive in deep into all of the music that is Diana Ross. I decided to watch Day One of the concert first, knowing that it was cut short due to the rain. The length and the chronological order got me here. Day One was 45 minutes long but Day Two was the length any concert goer would be pleased with. What I wasn't that happy with was the Day One recap on the DVD not being optional viewing when watching Day Two. Ross handled the rain like a pro and promised her fans she would be back the next day to finish the concert, not actually knowing if that was actually possible. No diva here, just a woman passionate about her music and excited to share it live with her fans.

I admit, it was odd to watch a concert without all of the bells and whistles. We're so used to all of that (sometimes unnecessary) production that just to get a voice on stage and have that be the entertainment, it's refreshing. Why aren't today's artists taking note? Oh yeah, because some of them wouldn't be on top if they had to depend on their own voice to anchor an entire concert. Diana Ross is a phenomenal singer and her energy at the concert is even more incredible. Whether you were there back in '83 or are viewing the concert for the first time today, Ross engages and brings the viewer to life with her voice and genuine excitement on stage. She also performs a Supremes medley and covers Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon In The Sky” among others which was fun to see. It really is a blast and saying that really doesn't do it justice.

There really is nothing like a live concert being broadcast around the world. There's no editing and no time to really care about messing up. It's organic. She goes with the flow and the audience flows smoothly with her. The tears that flow from her are the icing on the cake. Seeing that genuine emotion, seeing just how important this moment in time means to her, it's fantastic, so gratifying. The only thing I was confused about was how surprised she often seemed with the flow of the concert. Did they not make a set list and show her? That's really the only distraction during Day Two (well, that and Ross telling the crowd to settle down so that they can hear her during the quiet songs) compared to the many distractions on Day One. Bottom line, Diana Ross Live in Central Park is a must have for anyone who calls themselves a Diana Ross fan. This is one of the standout moments in her career and what a wonderful moment it is!

Bonus Features:

Commentary - The commentary is conducted by Director, Steve Binder. This is a very insightful commentary but it's led by a very boring, monotone voice so it was often difficult to really keep my attention.

* Complete Rain-Shortened Concert From Previous Day

Own Diana Ross Live in Central Park on DVD today.

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