A very strange music video in which Sir Paul McCartney plays a cigar box resonator guitar.
Last night, I enjoyed the Rush R40 Tour concert at Jiffy Lube Live (formerly Nissan Pavilion) in Virginia. It was a great show, with the band really cranking out some great performances. I apologize in advance for the really crappy video. All I had with me was my iPhone 5, and I was seated in the lawn. I've already posted some even crappier stills on Facebook. For me, though, this concert was not about taking pictures or video. It was about enjoying the show. And that, I did!
And so, for your amusement, here's much of the show condensed to about eight-and-a-half minutes, in little bits and pieces.
Some folks have said recently that Geddy Lee's voice is ... lacking ... and that he's unable to do the songs as well as he used to. I'll admit that there were a few moments where he was straining, or made some interesting melodic decisions. But, at 61, to expect Lee to be able to nail vocals as he did 20, 30 or 40 years ago is ridiculous. I think he did an awesome job. It was also apparent to me that he was not entirely pleased with his monitor mix, and I can relate (from experience); when you can't hear yourself properly, it's hard to sing properly. I also heard several comments from attendees stating that his voice was better than it's been in years. In any case, as this was my first Rush show (!), I had no basis for comparison, except for concert videos I've seen over the years -- made when Lee was younger.
And, for a man with horrible arthritis, Neil Peart drums like there's no tomorrow, and still makes it look all too easy. If you didn't know he was in pain, well, you wouldn't know from his playing. The man can play some drums. Enough said.
Alex Lifeson pretty much ruled the stage, from a guitar standpoint. I was told he muffed up something pretty badly, but I missed it, either because it happened when I was in the restroom, or he recovered so expertly that it slid right past me.
My only real complaint about the evening was that the house mix was really not right for the first three songs. There was no definition in the drums, and the vocals were lost in the "mush" of drum and bass. There was also a distinct problem in the delay settings for the lawn fills -- I could hear the slight mistiming, and it was really pretty annoying. While I certainly understand that things change during the course of a day, and that a full house sounds different from a full house (and it was a full house!), but at this level, they really ought to be able to compensate at least a little, and not having the delay settings right at the start is inexcusable. After the first three songs, things got better, and quickly.
The bottom line is this: If you like Rush, you owe it to yourself to see this show if you can. It could be your last chance, as the word is that this is the last big tour for Rush. I know I'd pay to see it again!
[Update] Here's the setlist, as played at the show:
- The World Is...The World Is (Intro video)
- The Anarchist
- Clockwork Angels
- Headlong Flight (with mini drum solo)
- Far Cry
- The Main Monkey Business
- One Little Victory
- Roll the Bones
- Distant Early Warning
- No Country for Old Hens (intro video)
- Tom Sawyer
- The Spirit of Radio
- Natural Science
- Jacob's Ladder
- Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres Part I: Prelude
- Cygnus X-1 (The Voyage Part 1 & 3 with drum solo)
- Closer to the Heart
- 2112 Part I: Overture
- 2112 Part II: The Temples of Syrinx
- 2112 Part IV: Presentation
- 2112 Part VII: Grand Finale
- Mel's Rock Pile starring Eugene Levy (intro video)
- Lakeside Park
- What You're Doing (>)
- Working Man (with "Garden Road" outro)
- Exit Stage Left (outro video)
What follows is not a review, per se. It's just some knee-jerk impressions of the highly-anticipated Lumix GH4 camera from Panasonic, from the perspective of a curmudgeonly still photographer and videographer.
I've rented the camera, along with a Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 zoom, for the week to use on a video shoot. I specifically wanted to use the GH4 because I needed to be able to shoot 4K video for the project I'm working on, and I needed to be able to mount a lens with a really wide angle of view. As far as this goes, the combination provided exactly what I wanted for the shoot, and so far, the video footage looks brilliant.
When I opened the box from the rental house, my first thought was that the body was quite large and heavy, especially considering that it's a Micro Four Thirds, mirrorless camera. In fact, the body is almost exactly the same size and weight as a Canon EOS Rebel T5i! However, the 7-14mm f/4 lens is much smaller and lighter than the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5-4.5 I have for my Sony camera.
For most operations, the camera shares the paradigm of most modern DSLRs with video capability -- common photographic controls (shutter speed, aperture, ISO and exposure compensation) are hidden behind command dials and function buttons. The GH4 does add a fairly intuitive and accurate touch screen, but there's still no marked shutter speed dial or aperture ring. In other words, the very control layout I moved away from by switching to Fujifilm! So, from a still-camera-perspective, I don't really care much for the camera. From the perspective of video, the operation is as good as any DSLR. I've said before that I don't really care for using still cameras for video, though I can't argue with the quality of the video the camera records. Again, I chose this specific rig because it is the only camera/lens combination available that allowed me to shoot the video that I need for the project at hand. In other words, it's not just the right tool for the job, it's the only tool for this job.
The image above is a frame from the video I shot today, and clicking the image will let the pixel-peepers among you take a look at the image in all its glory. Grabbing a frame of 4K video from the GH4 gets you a 3840x2160 pixel image (about 8.3 megapixels), big enough to make a pretty decent print (about 7.2 x 12.8 inches at 300dpi, or 12x21 inches at 180dpi).
One annoying aspect of the camera is that I am not able to find manual exposure control for video recording. The camera did, however, appear to lock the exposure once recording was started. Using the touch screen, I was able to select an area for my exposure and lock it in.
An area where Panasonic has really got it right is in their WiFi implementation. It's very easy to create an ad-hoc connection to the camera from an iPhone 5 or iPad, and have full control of the camera, including a high-quality, real-time live-view. For video use this is really handy, as it provides an easy way to provide a "producer monitor" without having to dangle a cable off the camera. If a powered zoom lens is mounted, then focal length can be controlled from the remote device as well, making operation by a camera operator and assistant easy to set up.
That's about it for now. I've got the camera for another week, and I'll shoot some with it over this weekend -- both stills and video -- and post some results.
Some time back, I asserted my belief that UHF was going to be a bad place to be for wireless microphones. As it turns out, I was right. The next group of frequencies that will affect wireless microphones to go onto the auction block will likely be the 600MHz band, maybe as soon as next year.
Meanwhile, wireless microphone manufacturers are finally beginning to make relatively affordable systems available in the 2.4GHz band -- right where I said they ought to be going. Shure's GLX-D systems start at around $500 for a tabletop receiver and handheld SM58 wireless mic (check it out at Sweetwater).
The GLX-system looks to be fairly complete, too, with a full line of options for hand-held and body-pack mics and instruments, as well as table-top/rack-mount or camera-mount receivers. Shure also offers a 900-MHz digital system, but that what's left of that frequency-band is getting increasingly crowded.
Still, wireless in-ear monitor systems are conspicuously absent from the 2.4GHz band, with most manufacturers seamingly still burying their collective heads in the sand. If the wireless microphone frequencies are becoming unavailable, what do they think is going to happen to their in-ear systems? They operate in the same frequency ranges... I'm just sayin'...
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After our most recent gig, it became abundantly apparent that we need monitors of some sort, be they floor wedges or wireless or some combination thereof. Our bass player currently owns a UHF in-ear system that he's almost never used. I'd like to go wireless, too, as would our other backup vocalist. But, as a seven-piece band with as many as five singers, this could be an expensive proposition. And, I'm concerned about the future of the rest of the UHF band. When the government-mandated transition from analog to digital television occurred here in the US, a couple of other things happened, at least one of which directly affected musicians using wireless microphones, instruments and in-ear monitoring systems. Specifically a large chunk of the UHF radio band, which was previously used for our wireless gear was declared off-limits. I don't have to tell you that decent wireless gear is expensive. The best price I've found so far on a decent-quality UHF personal monitor is around $350 for the Carvin EM900 system. UHF spectrum is like gold to the wireless communications industry (cell phones, two-way radios, etc.) who benefited most from the UHF frequencies made vacant by the DTV transition, and it's only a matter of time before they lobby the government and win the rest of "our" airspace.
So, I began looking at what's going on in other wireless market segments. The answer is that there is a large allocation in the 2.4GHz range for digital spread-spectrum systems. The technology is mature, and you're already familiar with some of -- cordless phones, wireless networking and even baby monitors are operating using this technology now, along with radio controlled model airplanes, cars and boats. Because so many consumer industries are using this technology, that also means that the it's relatively cheap!
Digital spread spectrum is a great technology for our use as musicians because, once a transmitter and receiver are "paired" (just like a Bluetooth earpiece gets paired to your cell phone), they always "know" each other. When they first get turned on in a new location, they negotiate with other 2.4GHz devices so that many, many systems can operate together without any interference whatsoever. And, a single transmitter can be "paired" to several different receivers, just as easily as pairing that Bluetooth gizmo to your phone.
Knowing all this, you'd think that there would be a ton of inexpensive 2.4GHz wireless systems for musicians out there. There are already amazing 2.4GHz radio control systems out there for under $100! But, as near as I can tell, there are only two companies using this technology. Line6 has products for wireless guitar/bass and vocals, but no in-ear monitors. The other company I've found is Jangus Music. Yeah, I've never heard of them either.
Based on a common transmitter/receiver pair, Jangus systems start at around $190. If you're a guitarist, it comes with everything you need. For in-ear monitors, you'll need to add a pair of ear-buds. If you're looking for a head-worn mic, they have a "kit" or sell their very nice headset mic system separately (along with adapters to use their mic system with any wireless or wired PA).
If you're a keyboardist, each system can support a single stereo keyboard, or two keyboards, if you run mono like I do! Guitarists might like their integrated strap/transmitter setup. There are no pictures of it on their web site, but they do mention it in all of their literature. The Jangus system also looks to be a great solution for videographers or digital film-makers using an HDSLR rig.
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Brilliant little video!