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Beyoncé: I Am... Yours. An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas(2009)
I Am Yours An Intimate Performance at the Wynn Las Vegas captures a never-before-seen performance from this iconic artist.
For more about Beyoncé: I Am... Yours. An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas and the Beyoncé: I Am... Yours. An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas Blu-ray release, see Beyoncé: I Am... Yours. An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on January 26, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Beyoncé Knowles
Director: Nick Wickham
» See full cast & crew
Beyoncé: I Am... Yours. An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas Blu-ray Review
Beyoncé, not exactly intimate before a crowd of several thousand at the Wynn in Las Vegas. Kanye West thinks it's the best concert Blu-ray ever.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, January 26, 2010
Any good acting teacher will tell you conviction is nine tenths of an actor's struggle in reaching an audience. You can have the worst material in the world, but if you apply your craft with conviction, you have at least a chance of reaching an audience. Beyoncé, the whirlwind multimedia sensation, has conviction in perhaps unmatched doses. Perhaps from he own nascent acting career, she brings a ferocity and fervor to her show at Las Vegas' tony Wynn Hotel and Casino. Though it's perhaps just a little laughable that this concert is billed as "up close and personal" and "intimate" when you see the size of the hall and the number of people in attendance, the fact is Beyoncé does in fact manage to have some unusually interpersonal moments with at least a few of her audience members, notably the ones lucky enough to be seated in the front row.
Though Beyoncé mentions several people who inspired her growing up, including The Supremes, Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five, Ella Fitzgerald and (perhaps improbably) Josephine Baker, she leaves out Judy Garland. And yet Judy was famous for making her live concert entrances from the back of the hall, walking through her adoring crowds to finally take the stage to raucous acclaim. Beyoncé follows that example to a tee here, magically appearing on the steps leading down to the stage, as those with aisle seats are overjoyed at being next to their idol. One thing that may throw off some viewers of this initial segment is the uncanny similarity between Beyoncé's backup singers' voices and the woman herself. When she obviously stops singing "Hello" as she greets her adoring fans, and the singing continues unabated, it's momentarily disconcerting, and some more jaded viewers may believe they're witnessing an "Ashlee Simpson moment."
Once Beyoncé does take the stage for the first half of her show, she's off on what she advertises as an "unplugged acoustic" set, which is somewhat belied by the multiple synths and other electric keyboards dotting the stage behind her. One thing that can't be denied is the incredible all female band that accompanies the singer. It's simply wonderful to see a totally distaff assemblage handling the musical duties so ably, and one wishes this were more of the norm, especially perhaps for female leading artists. Major props are due to Beyoncé for having the wisdom to take this unusual step, and equal props are due to the fine work each of these women turn in throughout the concert.
As the "Act One: Intimate" set proceeds, Beyoncé interprets a fairly wide range of material, a lot of which she wrote or co-wrote herself, bringing a performance ethos to a lot of the tunes. While some of this can be seen as over the top (her crotch grabbing swagger during "If I Were a Boy," for example), there's no denying the fact that the singer is at least attempting, and often succeeding, to capture the emotional subtext of her material, and going all out to communicate that subtext to her audience. Beyoncé possesses a rather unusual voice, one that in its fluttery alto range is more than a bit reminiscent of Toni Braxton, but which can then erupt into quasi-soprano flights of fancy. If Beyoncé eschews the melismatic overkill of Mariah Carey, she possesses that same power and often finesse, and it's often a very appealing combination.
A brief Intermission set is actually one of the more interesting moments of the concert, as Beyoncé attempts to prove her jazz chops with some scat singing. If she's not quite at Ella's level, she acquits herself mostly admirably, if not quite with the panache that one of her soul sister forebears, Chaka Khan, has done with her forays into this idiom. We then get a neat little homage to the Nicholas Brothers with a neat tap number.
The second half of the show is entitled "Act Two: Storytelling," and it's a through written and through sung look at Beyoncé's life from childhood, through the Destiny's Child years, to her ultimate breakthrough as a top selling solo artist. A little too self congratulatory at times, this segment does frankly also have a self deprecatory element and is not afraid to make fun of the singer, who relates some of her early missteps with genuineness.
The physical production here is nice and well executed, if not as hyperbolic as the George Michael Live in London Blu-ray I just reviewed. While there are nonstop light and smoke effects, the stage itself is relatively restrained from a set standpoint. Beyoncé is almost always front and center (and occasionally even more than that, as when she sits on the stairs leading up to the stage, literally within arm's reach of the front row of seats). The band and backup singers are for the most part upstage, though Beyoncé brings various members downstage for little solo or duet moments. While she does let loose with some great dance steps from time to time, this is largely a sung affair.
There's always a slightly affected aspect to any of these super successful artists when they take the stage in what they know is going to be a filmed or taped memorial of their performing skills. It's to Beyoncé's credit that some semblance of a real person peeks through the façade quite a bit of the time. Able to muster incredible soul and surprisingly delicate lyricism, she's a singer with an unusual timbre and unusually wide emotional range. I Am…Yours reveals her to be not just exquisitely beautiful and graceful, she has that rare magnetic stage presence that defines true star power.
Beyoncé: I Am... Yours. An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas Blu-ray, Video Quality
I Am...Yours arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC transfer that unfortunately is hampered by some stage lighting issues. Right off the bat you will notice that the arcing red lights which illuminate the backup band are so powerful that the players' faces dissolve into a ruddy mush. When the frequent stage smoke comes into play, it makes anything much further upstage from the star unrecognizable. I can't however lay this at the feet of the Blu-ray itself, as those very reds are magnificently well saturated. Overall, though, it feels like contrast has been pumped to the point where colors melt and bleed. In closeups, detail is really excellent, with Beyoncé's face looking magnificent.
Beyoncé: I Am... Yours. An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is generally quite excellent, wisely staying away from overwhelming ambient audience noise, and instead choosing to fill the surround channels with Beyoncé's really incredible backing band and backup singers. There are occasional reverb issues with Beyoncé's voice, which leads to some unnecessary muddiness, but these are transitory issues that don't affect the overall warmth of the soundtrack. With an small contingent of strings and a brass and wind ensemble augmenting the usual keyboards, guitars and drums, this soundtrack offers excellent fidelity and really good dynamic range. The singer's voice is very well reproduced, capturing the many flourishes with which she graces most of her material. I sampled the PCM Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes and found them both to be quite good as well. The PCM Stereo mix was exceedingly clear and well defined, and I was pleasantly surprised by how relatively robust the DD 5.1 mix was.
Beyoncé: I Am... Yours. An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
"What Happens in Vegas" is a 24 minute HD featurette which shows the last week of preparations before the concert, proving that Beyoncé is a hands on executive as well as being the star of the show.
Beyoncé: I Am... Yours. An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
It may not be quite as intimate as advertised, but I Am...Yours is one of the less pre-packaged mega-concert films in recent memory. The singer is firmly in control of the proceedings and obviously exults in the emotions her songs portray.
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