Monday, November 29, 2010

DVD Review: Ana Popović Band: An Evening at Trasimeno Lake

Text © Robert Barry Francos/FFanzeen, 2010
Images from the Internet

Ana Popović Band: An Evening at Trasimeno Lake
Directed by Dimone Pucci
MVD Visual / ArtisteXclusive, 2010
124 minutes, USD $19.95

Born in Yugoslavia 34 years ago, Ana Popović has become a worldwide sensation. Having garnered many international awards, her brand of guitar-focused blues rock sets the stage afire.

Promoting her latest album, Blind For Love, Ana takes the stage with her main band, which consists of Andrew “Blaze” Thomas (the only US member) on drums, Michele Papadia on keyboards, and Ronald Jonker on a very rockin’ bass. Along with this core group, there are four other members that float in and out, including percussion, brass, and a back-up vocalist.

Utilizing six cameras and an amazing setting of a medieval castle in Italy, Ana and crew perform before a very enthusiastic crowd. Starting strong right off the bat, she opens with “Wrong Woman” (as in “you’re messing with”), a solid ‘70s rocker, especially on the choruses. Amazing, the huge amount of flying bugs, which are very visible to the camera thanks to the stage lighting (very well done, with an emphasis on the reds) does not seem to phase her performance or the other band members (though Michele definitely winches against them landing on his face, considering he’s the most stationary).

Ana knows how to strut with the best of them, moving around the stage with her electric Strat guitar, flailing at the neck and body to make a full-bodied sound, helped with the fill by the rhythm section behind her.

“How’d You Learn to Shake It Like That” is solid I-IV-V blues, right out of the Bonnie Raitt style-book, though it is unfair to compare the two actually, since Raitt leans more towards the classic blues end, and Ana the classic rock. And yet, on numbers like Keyshia Cole’s (one of the few covers) “U Complete Me,” Ana and band do a hard blues ballad burner, showcasing Ana’s guitar wizardry.

In another change of pace, “Lives That Don’t Exist” shows that Ana is handily familiar with da funk. The whole band knows how to get down with the wah-wah, with the bass blazing. And while Ana’s guitar is the definite forefront, she lets the rest of the band get their say, such as Michele’s electric keyboard turn on “Let Me Love You Babe.”

There are a couple of breaks between songs for brief interview segments, which I found kind of distracting, one of the few editing flaws of the DVD. Personally, I would have preferred just straight concert all the way through. Then suddenly at one point, without explanation, Ana’s in a different outfit, sitting on a chair, and with an acoustic rather than electric. I found this disconcerting… was it the second set? The encore?

Even without the wail of an electric, Ana proves her chops right out with “Doubt Everyone But Me,” a Latin-influenced number that features solos by some of the other musicians. This is followed up by the title track from her new release, Blind for Love, a slow love song that is quite lovely.

“Get Back Home to You,” the next cut, is right back to classic rock for which she whips up even on an acoustic. She finishes up the set with an R&B-laced “Love Fever” and another funker, “Hold On.”

Recorded in HD, the sound is crisp as one might expect, and the balance is pretty even, with Ana and her guitar up front, as should it be; but no one gets lost in the mix. Ana’s voice, which has a steely quality, is also clear, thankfully.).

For the extras, there are two songs by Ana alone on acoustic, recorded in the afternoon before the show: “Blind for Love” and “Steal Me Away.” Oddly, each song was recorded live in about four different places, and is spliced together, so there is a disconcerting jump in background sounds and in Ana’s vocals; in other words, each place as their own sound environment, which affects the voice, guitar and background “noise.” I’d rather have the whole song be consistent, but maybe that’s me. The other add-on is a 7-minute interview with Ana in different parts of the castle, as she talks about her life.

I’ve never heard Ana before, though I’ve heard of her, so it was nice to put a sound to the name. She proves that it is worth the wait.

Wrong Woman (Blind for Love LP)
Is This Everything There Is
How’d You Learn to Shake It Like That
U Complete Me (Keyshia Cole)
Nothing Personal
Shadow After Dark
Lives That Don’t Exist
Let Me Love You Babe
Doubt Everyone But Me
Blind For Love
Get Back Home to You
Recall the Days
Love Fever
Hold On

Bonus Video (while this song starts off the live DVD, this is the studio version, which is not included):

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