If you're waiting for Barbra Streisand to perform at Poplar Creek or the Rosemont Horizon, you may have an awfully long wait. But you can see her and other artists ranging from the Irish rock group U2 to contemporary Christian singer Sandi Patti in the comfort of your own living room.
Admittedly, there's nothing like the excitement of hearing and seeing a favorite performer live in concert. There are advantages to seeing a concert at home, however. There's no fee for parking and no claustrophobia as you battle the crowds. In some cases, the sound quality is better — or at least you can control the volume and you can see the people on stage without binoculars.
For real fans, concert tapes can fulfill the need to see their favorites over and over again. For instance, if you love hearing and seeing David Bowie or Linda Ronstadt, you can rent the concert videos over and over again, or perhaps buying the tape will prove a better investment.
And if you don't have cable, most Home Box Office music concerts are also available on video; B.B. King & Friends: A Blues Session and Roy Orbison & Friends: A Black & White Night are two recent examples.
What follows are descriptions of some recent concert video releases:
Freedom Beat: Artists Against Apartheid UK (Pacific Arts Video, $19.95).
Although most certainly well intentioned, all-star benefit specials are rapidly becoming the equivalent of TV's Battle of the Network Stars. But don't let that deter you from watching this tape, a scaled-down version of a concert in one of London's largest parks featuring a cast of international artists. Although some of the performers — Lorna Gee, Gil Scott-Heron. Billy Bragg and Princess — may not be household names in the U.S., don't judge until you hear their music. South African-born Hugh Masekela, fresh from the Paul Simon Graceland Tour, tells the story in song of workers shuttling on and off the South African coal train. Little children join Maxi Priest on stage for °Strollin' On." The crowd of about a quarter-million people joins in while Sting sings "Message in a Bottle," Sade gracefully slides through "Why Can't We Live Together?" and Elvis Costello and the Style Council also show up. The entire all-star cast teams up for the rousing "Free Nelson Mandela," and then they're led by Peter Gabriel for the anthemlike "Biko." This concert transcends international borders.
Roy Orbison & Friends: A Black & White Night (HBO Video, $19.99).
In a concert filmed live in black and white at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles, Roy Orbison works on a very crowded stage. Band members and backup singers include T-Bone Burnett, Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, J.D. Souther, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and Jennifer Warnes. Orbison still sounds great, performing all his oldies from the heart-wrenching "It's Over" to "Oh, Pretty Woman." No question about it, Orbison is the star of this show. For instance, the voices of Warnes and Browne provide backup vocals. At least Costello and Springsteen shine with the star on "Candy Man" and "Uptown." Strangely, Orbison doesn't even acknowledge or introduce his all-stars. Still, how can you go wrong with a band like this?