Ricky Martin: One Night Only

Ricky Martin: One Night Only (1999)
Sony Music
Cast: Ricky Martin
Extras: Bonus video, Photo gallery

Ricky Martin may turn out as a one-hit wonder when everything is said and done, but one thing is clear nonetheless, he has been a wonder with one hell of a lot of talent that deserved the limelight. Turning around the world with a single appearance at last year’s Grammy’s the young actor/singer has brought Latin music into the limelight for the first time since Carlos Santana topped the charts with songs like “Samba Pa Ti” or “Europa” in the 70s. It is not hard to understand where the success comes from. His music is extremely rhythmic and has what could be called a healthy “party feel”. An inspiring and infectious mix of modern pop and traditional Latin sounds. Especially during live performances they are greatly enhanced by Martin’s superb band, his dance-act and, of course his very own irresistible charisma.

Columbia Music Video and Sony Music Entertainment have now prepared a DVD featuring Ricky Martin’s concert at New York’s Liberty State Park earlier this year. It was Martin’s first TV special and has now found a glorious home on this DVD. Intermingled with the songs are small backstage segments, as well as other specially created footage that feature Ricky Martin as a host for Latin American music and locales. It is very well produced and presented, giving the show more personal depth than a straight concert video.

The DVD features spectacular performances of some of Martin’s songs, starting with a staggering performance of “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” Despite the fact that I have heard the track countless times, I am always astonished anew at how energetic the track is and how the rhythm of the music makes sure that it never feels as if you have heard that track too many times. Somehow it manages to sound ever-fresh, and especially Martin’s vocal performance on the track is excellent, much better than some other live occasions I have heard the song played.
The song is followed by the thoughtful and moving ballad “She’s All I Ever Had”, which immediately sets the tone for the special, indicating that there is more to Martin that the gyrating dancer with good looks. The songs is extremely well composed and once again manages to bring in a subtle Latin flair. One very special highlight I found on the disc was the medley of “Light My Fire” and “Oye Como Va”, featuring Jose Feliciano and Carlos Santana. It is a masterful interpretation of the songs, and it is great to see these grandmasters of popular Latin music together with Martin on stage. As a bonus on this disc you will also find the music video to “Shake Your Bon-Bon” and a Ricky Martin photo gallery.

The image quality on this presentation is superb with a sharply delineated picture. Edges are well defined without much of the fuzziness found in many more dated video tapings. Color bleeding or chroma noise is almost unnoticeable, even under the colorfully lit conditions found towards the end of the show. The compressions on this disc shows some signs of pixelation, but it is always subtle without distracting from the actual presentation.

The DVD, “Ricky Martin: One Night Only” contains a Dolby Stereo mix as well as a 5.1 channel 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. I dint that most surround mixes of live performances work the best when the rear channels are carefully used to inflect early reflections in the sound image, but also to emphasize the presence of an audience. This DVD is no different, presenting a solid mix that outs the cheering audience right behind you so that you take a listening position that is just right n front of the stage. Due to the open-air nature of the show, it is not surprising that early reflections are at a minimum, only subtly offering additional music information through the surround channels.
The mix presented on this disc is bombastic and fat. The frequency response is very natural and balanced wit ha good low end, helping to bring the pumping bass lines out like never before. But also in the high end we hear clear syllables and cymbals without distortion of any sort.

It is always a pleasure to experience well done music presentations on DVD with full surround audio tracks, and this presentation of Ricky Martin’s talent and music is a great addition to any music collector’s library. The whole show exemplifies that he is a star who is much more natural than other popular acts and by comparison turns out being a real singer, dancer and musician. One could certainly argue that Ricky Martin has been heavily over-hyped over the past months, but after seeing such a stunning performance the question becomes, can you truly give too much exposure to something that good? Check this disc out. You will love it