After taking a break from putting out worship records, Michael W. Smith returned to the genre and released another successful collection with A New Hallelujah. Now, he returns with the accompanying live DVD companion, appropriately titled A New Hallelujah: The Live Worship DVD.
When the DVD of a live CD is released later, the first thing one wants to know is how much the visual adds to the experience. You quickly notice how grand the stage looks. With a large choir divided between sides of the stage, instruments in the middle, and Smitty right up front, you can see what a large production this was even though you're just watching digitally. You feel like something big is happening. The rich and vibrant colors lend themselves to the mood as well.
As always, there are a couple of fun little things you pick up on from the visual, such as Smitty coming out and playing one of the drums used during the intro. It's not a very complicated part by any means, but fun nevertheless. Also, there are several times towards the beginning of the disc when Israel Houghton (who comes on stage for "Help Is On The Way.") can be seen worshiping in the front row of the audience along with everyone else.
There are several songs featured on the DVD that are left off the CD edition. The first is "Love In His Right Hand," a slow song that consists of nothing more than Smitty's voice and his keyboard. Based on the words he shares before playing the song as well as his emotion during it, it's evident that this was a special song to him. Then they bring the African Children's Choir back out for the song "Siwano." This is entirely in their native tongue. It's pretty short, but looks like a lot of fun. The concert portion of the DVD is finally rounded out with a reprise of "A New Hallelujah."
The DVD also features a "Behind the Scenes" featurette which is pretty cool. The footage used ranges anywhere from practice to in the production trailer, to the sound booth, and to backstage during the show. There are also interviews with folks you wouldn't typically hear from who were involved in the project. You really get a sense of the massive amount of work that's involved in putting together something like this. There are a couple instances where they mention changes they're making in the last couple of hours before the show which is just amazing when you consider the grand scope of what they're doing.
Overall, this DVD is very well put together. The camera angles are well done. The menu is very easy to operate and the extra couple tracks are a nice bonus. However, in many ways, it's still exactly what you would imagine it to look like after listening to the audio version and seeing previous productions like this. Regardless, the hardcore Smitty fans will find great value in this item. But depending on your preferred form of media consumption (visual or audible), the casual listener probably only needs to own either one or the other. Were both to be sold together, it would be a better buy and collection for the fan.- Review date: 4/7/09, written by Matt Johnson
Record Label: Reunion Records
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