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Worship DVD

Video Review
by RL Williams
Worship Video
    Michael W. Smith's new Worship Video DVD, released August 20th 2002, is a superb work that captures what can happen when an artist puts his heart and soul, literally, into a concert. The Worship Video was recorded live last April in Alberta Canada before a packed house of 15,000 including a large percentage of youth.

   Grammy award winning Michael W. Smith is an accomplished musical artist, singer, songwriter, and author with both gold and platinum albums to his credit. The previous Worship audio CD, recorded in Lakeland Florida, and released on the infamous September 11th 2001, has been certified platinum. The new Worship Video is an extension of the Worship audio CD and serves well in re-creating the power and presence of such an event.

   Smith sings in his unique voice and plays both a guitar and a multi-color one-of-a-kind custom piano, perhaps an Elton John influence. A variety of songs are presented, from contemporary worship music to a version of "40" by U2. From the opening "Step by Step" all the selections are well represented. Smith does "Draw Me Close" which he says is a favorite he sings in his car. "Above All" and "Let It Rain" as well as "Awesome God" are emotionally charged as Smith relates through music his faith and passion. Several moments of overpowering emotion are displayed by Smith, the most notable during the song "Breathe." The conclusion includes Smith presenting a moving Psalm reading as a lead-in to "I See You," a very powerful and loud statement of faith by music from the late Rich Mullins. This is one of those songs that seems to stick with you.

   At one point, attempting to become more intimate, Smith leaves the main stage and walks to a smaller stage in the center of the audience to perform "I Give You My Heart." It was obvious that this whole production is not an act but a generous display of an artist's passion and commitment to doing what he loves to do in life. Tony Robbins coined the term "Live with Passion" and Smith does that in the biggest of ways.

   The Worship Video DVD succeeds in creating a "next best thing to being there" feeling…the video is excellent, the audio in 5.1 digital is superb, and the overall quality is first rate. The excellent quality of the audio is amazing considering this is a live recording in a large sports arena. The video production was marvelous, from lighting to editing, and the use of split-screen and tri-screen effects works well. Five cameras are used in the filming and the well-timed use of black-and-white video and fade-ins added to the experience.

   The DVD is packed with extras including a full-length audio commentary of the concert video with Smith and staff relating what they were thinking at different moments during the event. Smith is candid about his heartfelt emotions during the concert and shares several private moments and some lighter moments with the video audience. Also included is a time lapse video of the event from pre-stage setup to concert end. Other extras include "Making of the DVD" which provides technical information, "Behind The Scenes" with Smith and crew, a photo album, a collection of deleted scenes, and two trailers. Two songs are also enhanced with the DVD angle or multi-camera view option where you can select which of the five cameras you want to view through. One of the "hidden" extras is a "I have a wild idea" button which I won't spoil the surprise by telling what that is.

   Of course the message is the most important thing and Smith is eager to get this point across. At the beginning of the concert he opted to come in through the back instead of a grand front stage entrance, not wanting to dilute the real reason for the evening…worship and a desire for a genuine connection with the audience. The plentiful camera shots of the audience awash in warm light and in black-and-white enhance the experience and drive home the ability Smith has to create a close rapport with those around him.

   The Worship Video is a powerful and well-produced work of art. Smith is the real deal and a breath of fresh air in the sometimes problematic entertainment industry. Some artists let their success go to their heads, and in the Worship Video it comes through loud and clear that Smith lets his success go to his heart. The Worship Video is not just a video, it's an experience. Five stars out of five! *****
Worship Song List

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