Cast: John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Dave Mathews, Neil Young, the Doobie Brothers
Since it’s formation in 1985, the Farm Aid concerts have raised nearly $25 million to support America’s working farmers and their families, increasing public awareness of their struggle to maintain a livelihood in providing agricultural goods to the nation and beyond. This DVD captures the performers and their performances at the 2001 event held in Noblesville, Indiana on September 29th – a mere 18 days after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. Present are Martina McBride, the Doobie Brothers, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and Willie Nelson. Each performs several tunes from their celebrated repertoires and does so with enough energy to keep the packed house consistently on its feet.
The fullframe image here is very clean and vibrant with generally consistent color levels, even as the daytime show stretches into the night. The source material is very clean and free from any noticeable defects. As it is an open-air stage show, the stage lights do occasionally over-saturate the image but it’s nothing significant enough to raise concern. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track offers a very wide soundstage that manages to rather realistically anchor the performances to the front channels (with an appropriate bit of delay leaking to the rears) while the audience presence is nicely situated in the surrounds. While the recordings do appear to have been audibly cleaned up a bit, it maintains the live feel without slipping into any sort of shrillness or ambient disarray.
Oddly, this particular disc has no menus. Rather, after the Pioneer logo appears, the program begins immediately with a brief narrative followed by the opening act. While is possible to skip forward and back from song to song, there is no chapter index nor any audio or language options. Basically, plug this one in and let it go.
If you’re a fan of Country-Rock music, you’ll certainly enjoy this disc. Be aware, though, this isn’t the current year’s show held in Pennsylvania. Perhaps that one will be released soon.