Just Let Go: Lenny Kravitz Live Blu-ray Review: A Giant Directorial Miscue

It's very difficult to enjoy the presentation as a whole, which is a shame because the music is so good.
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In support of his tenth studio album, Strut, Lenny Kravitz has released a live concert film that was recorded over a three-month period during the European leg of his 2014 tour. While there are twelve songs on the disk, it does come across more as a documentary than a concert performance. Between songs and sometimes right in the middle of them, there are interviews with Kravitz and the band. It’s a strange combination because just as the viewer is getting into the songs the entire vibe changes as you listen to philosophical explanations of what music is, and how the band functions as a group, learning to play the songs Kravitz wrote and performed on the album that they now have to play and somehow make them their own while on tour.

Right from the beginning, it’s obvious that this is not your typical concert recording. There are opening credits that introduce every member of the band, making you feel that you are going to be watching a movie instead of a concert. Kravitz may be the star of the group and the headlining name but the overall connection and importance of the band stands out not only in the words spoken but also in the directorial presentation. Kravitz is not always dead center in the eye of the camera. A lot of times he’s off to the side singing while one of his fellow band members is center screen. At one point, the camera follows a roadie coming up to take away his guitar and continues until he walks off back stage. That’s just not what you’re used to seeing. This is the one aspect the director gets right.

It is refreshing to see a celebrity show outright appreciation for the people behind him that don’t get the credit they deserve. But at the same time, the fact that so much is devoted to the band entity as a whole just doesn’t work. Separately, the interviews are interesting and the musical performances are enjoyable, but together they are cut so that they step over one another. Twelve songs is just not enough for a concert recording and breaking them up with calm, introspective conversations seems to run counter intuitively to one another. The peace, tranquility, and the overall good feeling from these interludes is shattered by the rock and roll, and the exciting, up-tempo music gets you flying high just to be immediately brought crashing down to Earth by the interviews.

The Blu-ray was presented in 1080i High Definition Widescreen 16x9 (1.78:1) with a LPCM Stereo, DTS-HD Master Audio. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray format was completely unnecessary. It was obviously a directorial choice to have the video grainy, giving it the effect that it was filmed in the 1970s, but it ran completely contradictory to the format it was recorded on. Not only was the visual aspect of the film recorded that way, but the audio was just as downgraded and would have been sufficient hearing it on a regular DVD.

Overall Just Let Go is a giant directorial miscue. The documentary and musical aspects don’t mesh together. Leaving songs out of the concert film when it was short on music and putting them in the bonus section was a bad choice. And while the grainy video recording can be seen as artistic, there is no viable excuse for not using the audio tracks to their full potential.  With all of these contradictions, it’s very difficult to enjoy the presentation as a whole, which is a shame because the music is so good.

Track Listings

  1. Fly Away
  2. Dirty White Boots
  3. American Woman
  4. Dancin’ ‘Til Dawn
  5. Strut
  6. It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over
  7. New York City
  8. The Chamber
  9. Sister
  10. Dig In
  11. Let Love Rule
  12. Are You Gonna Go My Way

Bonus Unedited Live Versions

  1. Sister
  2. Always On The Run
  3. Sex
  4. I Belong To You
  5. New York City
  6. Let Love Rule

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