A lot of musical acts have broken up over the decades. Some of those breakups have included public feuds and plenty of hostility between the members. You would be hard-pressed to recall a breakup as public and hostile as when the Everly Brothers called it quits. If you think Glen Fry’s “When hell freezes over” remark was pretty definitive, you should have been at the final Everly Brothers concert in 1973. The argument occurred on-stage in front of a live audience. Harsh words were exchanged, and a guitar got smashed. When Phil Everly walked off the stage to leave Don to finish the show alone, it would not only be the last time the brothers would appear on stage together in a decade. They would barely even speak to each other throughout most of that time. Lots of broken bands get back together for reunion tours and shows. But if you had to lay odds, the smart money would have bet against this brotherly duo ever singing together again. But, in 1983, a full ten years after the split, the smart money lost. The Everly Brothers reunited for a special concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall in front of a sold-out crowd that included a ton of stars that credit the brothers as their own early inspirations. The cameras were on hand to capture this historic moment. Now you can own it on DVD.
Unlike many groups, the Everly Brothers were more than just a performing and writing duo. They sang together, often sharing the same microphone. Part of the act was the intimacy that the boys displayed in their concerts. It made those harmonies sound just that much tighter. So the question going into this performance was rather obvious. How would the acrimony and the years effect that style of performance? You would be very surprised to find that they didn’t appear to miss a beat. This is one of those moments where it appears time stood still for those ten years and the boys managed to pick up at the moment before the famous fight. And it wasn’t just a one night wonder. The brothers went forward after that night in London and continued to perform and record for over 20 more years. While they never found themselves back on top again — the times had, of course changed — the brothers continued to pack concert halls all over the world.
The concert features an all-English band. The boys no longer strum those iconic huge Gibsons from their glory days. They are dressed in black holding new black guitars. They stood as close together as they always had, sharing the same mic stand, if not the same mic. You’ll hear most of the classics: Wake Up Little Suzie, Cathy’s Clown, When Will I Be Loved, Bye Bye Love, and All I Have To Do Is Dream. One of the highlights of the show has the brothers give the band a break and do a few acoustic numbers on their own. The audience wasn’t disappointed, and you won’t be either.
Here’s the full track list:
Walk Right Back
Crying In The Rain
Love Is Strange
Take A Message To Mary / Maybe Tomorrow
I Wonder If I Care As Much
When Will I Be Loved
Put My Little Shoes Away
Long Time Gone
Step It Up And Go
Bye Bye Love
Wake Up Little Suzie
Devoted To You / Ebony Eyes / Love Hurts
(‘Til) I Kissed You
All I Have To Do Is Dream
Let It Be Me
The concert is presented in an expected full-frame format. The boys are front and center with the band lost in the background of the stage. There’s never any doubt who this show is about. The camera spends most of the time tight on the brothers, and the detail is pretty strong when you consider the age and the fact this is a standard definition DVD. There are a few compression concerns, but it will be the sound you’ll be concentrating on here. The image presentation does enough to take you there for a spell.
The Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS 5.1 tracks sound pretty identical here. Perhaps there is more bottom on the DTS track. The music is clean and sounds as good as any live CD I’ve heard over the years. It’s obvious that you’re getting soundboard feed here. The accentuation is on the vocals, and they come through crisply. Their acoustic guitars are potted down pretty low throughout the show, and there are times you really can’t even hear them. I suspect that might have been the way it always was at an Everly Brothers concert.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Odyssey: (45:11) This is a wonderful documentary on the brothers pretty much driven by the men themselves. It’s loaded with very informal interview clips where the boys talk about their family and musical roots. The feature includes plenty of vintage footage of the family. It takes you all the way up to the reunion concert and invites you to attend the show’s rehearsal. This is a very nice feature, indeed.
This is more the kind of music my father listened to than I tend to have playing. While I’m not a huge Everly Brothers fan, their tunes are very easy to listen to. None of them are very long. The country influence on the 60’s ballad style was somewhat unique and still sounds fresh today. So pick it up, “Step it up and go”.