Sound: In their 1960's heyday, The Shadows held the kind of clout that only artists like Elvis Presley and The Beatles rivaled. Not only was this a group that was deemed teen idol royalty (particularly during their days as The Drifters with frontman Cliff Richard), it also had the talent to back up the widespread adoration. The Shadows garnered 69 hit singles on the UK charts, with the track Apache acting as a crossover hit across international waters. That single along with a bevy of other hits are featured on the new Blu-ray release The Shadows: The Final Tour, which although will be appreciated more so by the Baby Boomer generation, is still an essential musical history lesson for all ages.
The 180-minute concert, which was filmed back in 2004 at the Cardiff Indoor Arena, features over 40 songs, a good deal of which were Top 20 charters. The subtle-but-immediately-memorable melodies of tracks like Apache, The Savage, Wonderful Land, and FBI are all crowd pleasers and characteristic of the majority of the songs included. At the heart of it all are lead guitarist Hank Marvin, rhythm guitarist Bruce Welch, and drummer Brian Bennett, a dynamic trio that still consistently smile as they tear into their vibrato-driven Strat classics. The execution matches the perfection of the original recordings, and the band even breaks out the trademark choreography that fueled their shows from four decades ago.
There is certainly a mellow undertone to even the most rock-oriented tracks, but that's the beauty of it all. The Shadows' peak was the period right before The Beatles' truly broke out, so you won't necessarily get that raw nature heard in so much of the British Invasion. If you're a fan of flawless execution and impeccable melodies, however, you'll have a great appreciation for The Final Tour. The Cliff Richard era is even revisited with both Marvin and Welch tackling the vocals this time around. Other highlights include the band's take on Santo and Johnny's Sleepwalk and Dire Straits' Going Home. // 9
Content: As far as concert films go, The Final Tour doesn't lack in terms of quantity or quality. The concert is divided into two sets, with a brief intermission that fortunately doesn't affect Blu-ray viewers in the slightest. The primary bonus content is an interview with Marvin and Welch, who provide an in-depth look into their history together as musicians. While it's a pretty straightforward interview without a lot of bells and whistles, it's still an extremely informative one with some fascinating stories about The Beatles and their reason for selecting the Stratocaster as their instrument of choice. // 8
Production Quality: As one might expect with a Blu-ray release, The Final Tour makes for an absolutely stunning watch. Everything pops off of the screen, from Marvin's multicolored, Asian-themed silk shirt to the scores of starry lights that make up the backdrop of the stage. The interview is bare bones in comparison, but the beautifully shot concert more than makes up for any shortcomings in that aspect. // 10
Overall Impression: If you're not familiar with The Shadows' catalog, The Final Tour leaves you with a healthy respect for the British instrumentalists. For fans, the Blu-ray offers a satisfying and lengthy concert film that should be the proverbial blast from the past. Newer audiences may not sit still for the over-40 tracks, but The Final Tour certainly deserves at least one viewing. Between the performance itself and The Shadows' explanation about their use of specific guitar strings and songwriting in general, the Blu-ray in many ways provides a solid education for aspiring guitarists. // 9