Since The Offerings Experience Live DVD release in 2001, Atlanta rock band Third Day has released a total of three live DVD projects, with the most recent installment having been the CD/DVD combo Live Wire in 2004. Now, four years later, the band is releasing a new collection of special songs live in concert - a capturing of their Winter, 2007 holiday tour, otherwise known as Christmas Offerings.
Live DVD releases are somewhat of a bittersweet treat. Fans can take home a unique concert souvenir with the experience professionally caught on tape, but strictly video packaging can limit the enjoyability of the show. Still, few fans would turn down the opportunity to own a recording of a favorite artist's live performance, and when they're done just right, they're a true gift. Third Day's Christmas Offerings is especially a nice idea given the fact that the tour was in somewhat of a limited run, not covering too many areas of the U.S. This DVD allows those who otherwise couldn't be there to get a front row seat.
Christmas Offerings is beautifully captured in 16:9 widescreen format. The image looks fantastic on a widescreen TV and the colors are vibrant. Even when the camera goes in for a close-up on vocalist Mac Powell, it's a crystal clear image. Only sometimes does the high contrast caused by a spotlight on Powell's face or another member detract from the image, but it happens few and far in between. With the music of Christmas Offerings being of a mellower, often acoustic form, the editing is tastefully done. The cuts aren't too quick and the camera appropriately lingers long enough to let the viewer digest the moment without feeling like you're being rushed from one side of the stage to another; from one angle to the next. After just having watched Newsboys' new CD/DVD "GO Tour" project, Houston We Are GO, which used digital zoom instead of optical, and utilized multi-camera views that included some truly poor and amateurish qualities, Christmas Offerings is an example of how to correctly capture a live concert experience through professional camera work.
The sound on the Christmas Offerings DVD is also nicely done. The song selection presents a healthy mix of traditional songs like "What Child Is This?," "O Come Let Us Adore Him," and "O Holy Night" (among others), as well as the band's own new classics, "Born In Bethlehem," "Merry Christmas," "Jesus, Light Of The World," and "Christmas Like A Child," and finally, even a few regular non-seasonal Third Day classics, like "King Of Glory" and "Your Love, Oh Lord" (which also incorporated a little of "Nothing But The Blood"), and their live staple covers, "God Of Wonders" and "Creed." The DVD also includes all of the usual crowd interactions from the band, as well as a special reflection on Christmas from bassist Tai Anderson and a message on adoption as a prelude to "Merry Christmas" from guitarist Brad Avery.
There are very few negatives to this release. The only thing that could have made Christmas Offerings better would have been an inclusion of an audio disc to accompany the video. Also, the tour boasted the teaming up of Jars of Clay with Third Day, and it would have been great to see the whole evening from this tour represented on the DVD and not just Third Day (especially since there were apparently some collaborations between the two bands, which isn't represented at all here). It surprised me, too, to find that the DVD doesn't have any special features at all. While this isn't a huge deal, a behind-the-scenes featurette or even some band interviews about the tour or Christmas itself would have abeen a great little addition. Finally, I initially didn't include this in my first posting of this review, but our pre-release copy of the DVD featured a few camera angles through the first half of the DVD that displayed a thin line of pixelated visual distortion that ran across the screen. It wouldn't last more than a couple seconds and rarely showed up, but I'm amazed it actually made it to the final DVD release as well. It's very minor, but it would have been an easy fix to just not include those angles and frames, so it seems puzzling that such a beautifully constructed video presentation would occasionally include some frames with defects like that. Not only did I try two different TV sets and DVD players with this release, but both the pre-release AND the final copy display it.
The bottom line for Third Day's fourth live DVD is that Christmas Offerings is still a quality live concert recording that is perfect for fans of the band and holiday music alike. So move over, Yule Log, now Christian music fans have the perfect thing to pop on while trimming the tree or opening presents on a crisp Christmas morning.- Review date: 10/5/08, written by John DiBiase
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