Hear Me Out: Special LIVE Edition
Adele, Beyoncé, Tegan & Sara
Adele, Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall (CD/DVD/Blu-ray)
Adele sings sad love songs, but when she speaks? The British belter is a cursing firecracker (so much so that there’s an “edited” version of this package; don’t get it) with a biting sense of humor and a boisterous cackle that doesn’t seem very sad at all. Her live album, recorded in London, is a candid extension of the super-powered singer we’ve come to know from her many hits this past year with the release of her monster disc 21, all of which are performed here: “Rolling in the Deep,” “Set Fire to the Rain” and “Someone Like You.” Previous gems from her debut, opener “Hometown Glory” and “Chasing Pavements,” and covers of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and “Lovesong” are also performed with one-of-a-kind greatness from those bulldozer-built lungs of hers. Particularly special: her version of “If It Hadn’t Been for Love,” a bit of bluegrass that really just proves that, with her voice alone, Adele can set fire to anything.
Kylie Minogue, Aphrodite Les Folies: Live in London (CD/DVD/Blu-ray)
She doesn’t tour often, but when the Aussie princess does, she goes all out. Kylie’s immaculate and majorly homoerotic show, her biggest yet, of impressive aerialists, a breathtaking ancient-palace set and half-naked men (and their glistening abs) as Greek gods – Minogue obviously knows her audience – is, alone, an eye orgasm. And how about that water? Gallons of it are used as stage geysers at the end like a delayed climax. The music, then, is just a footnote in this spellbinding, bar-setting stage show (see all that went into the spectacle with behind-the-scenes access), but most of the faves are there: “I Believe in You,” a herd of hot men pulling her chariot; “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” set to a gothic ballroom dance scene; and one of the most beautiful concert moments ever, “All the Lovers,” with its soup of sexy bodies surrounding the goddess herself. Gay heaven welcomes you.
Tegan & Sara, Get Along (CD/DVD)
Sometimes it’s OK to let the songs speak for themselves. Lesbian supertwins Tegan & Sara go that route in this laid-back performance of their indie-pop with an intimate living-room feel that’s more a documentary than a straight-up concert. Three films by just as many filmmakers are featured: the anecdotal, life-on-the-road “States” – and “India,” a 24-minute video diary of their first-ever tour of the country (an acoustic “Walking with a Ghost” is performed beachside). The real treat, though, is the hour-plus of live acoustic performances in a chill Vancouver venue, where the Quin sisters play their most-adored ditties from five albums – including “I Know I Know I Know,” “I Won’t be Left” and “Nineteen” – and go mostly guitar-only with them. Highlights: “Not With You” from their 2000 debut and the harmonic heartbreak of “Call It Off.” Double trouble? Nah. Double talent? Definitely.
Lady Gaga, The Monster Ball Tour (CD/DVD/Blu-ray)
Gaga works a crowd better than most with her bizarre sense of sarcasm – a giant fame monster during “Paparazzi”? Why not. And for these two hours (of live singing!), shot at Madison Square Garden during her multi-year and ever-morphing Monster Ball Tour, she infuses sex and songs to a Wizard of Oz storyline set to her hits (turn on the “Lyrics” feature for some karaoke fun), like a futuristic “Bad Romance” and final encore “Born This Way.” Gaga’s flamboyant showmanship knows no bounds: It’s all very gay (including, on a backstage feature, a meet-and-greet with The Liza and a gay fan). If only Mother Monster’s preachy rants didn’t feel so much like a performance, too.
Shakira, En Vivo Desde Paris (CD/DVD/Blu-ray)
When you can move like Shakira, you don’t need anything but hips. Those she has, and believe me, they don’t lie. For two hours, the Colombian bum-bumper jerks, gyrates and gets down (for real: She humps the floor to a mad drumbeat) to a mix of her Spanish and English songs, including the howling good “She Wolf” (sans super vagina), “Underneath Your Clothes” (her Jewel phase) and the wonderful one-two punch encore of “Hips Don’t Lie” and “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).” Keeping it to Shakira’s music – which, in concert, is fantastically well-rounded with folk, dance, ballads – there’s no confetti, no pyro. Just Shakira doing her thing.
Taylor Swift, Speak Now World Tour (CD/DVD/Blu-ray)
For all the flack she gets for her shoddy live performances, Taylor Swift still knows how to rock a show. A few bum notes can’t stop the fuzzy feeling of hearing the starlet – in a flashy fairytale of her own – sing about young love (first-date theme “Enchanted”), being “Fifteen” again and making timeless memories (the liberating anthem “Long Live”). The tweeny fans eat up the songs, mostly from her Speak Now album but also including covers like “Drops of Jupiter,” and her persona that casts her as one of us. Not convinced? See the extras: adorable home movies and rehearsal footage.
Beyoncé, Beyoncé Live at Roseland: Elements of 4 (DVD)
“This night is gonna be magical,” says Beyoncé, turning her live performance in New York into a history lesson: from Star Search to Superstar, all set to some archival footage and charismatic behind-the-music chatter. Act I backtracks over a decade, with snippets of Destiny’s Child songs, “Dreamgirls” and solo hits like “Irreplaceable” and “Single Ladies.” She saves her voice for Act II, performing her latest album, 4, in its entirety (another disc presents music videos from this era). Most remarkable: fitting finale “I Was Here,” the belted retro-fun “Love on Top” – and the fact that Bey stays in the same glittery, baby-bump-hiding one-piece. The. Whole. Time.
Reach Chris Azzopardi at email@example.com.