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Omnimax Review: The sight lines and sound quality are super at rock concert movie

Friday, August 17, 2001

By Adrian McCoy

Omnimax films usually take viewers to places they'd never get a chance to see -- like the summit of Everest, diving with sharks or crawling through caves. In the case of "All Access: Front Row, Backstage, Live!" it sweeps viewers to another off-limits and exotic locale -- backstage at rock concerts. "All Access" opens this weekend at Carnegie Science Center's Omnimax Theater.


Where: Carnegie Science Center's Rangos Omnimax Theater

When: 9 and 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; through the end of the year.

Information: 412-237-3400.


The film offers a behind-the-scenes look at the rock-concert experience -- through winding arena corridors that take the stars from limo to dressing room to stage, past lighting technicians and roadies at work, from sound checks to live performances. These performances are the movie's highlights: They include Sheryl Crow doing a solo acoustic version of "If It Makes You Happy," and performance footage of Kid Rock, Macy Gray and Moby.

In the interview segments, performers talk about their music, rock 'n' roll in general and each other. They sometimes come close to describing that quality that creates the mass tribal ritual that a good concert can be. As Macy Gray puts it, "The crowd feeds off whatever you give them."

The diversity of contemporary pop music is underlined in the carefully selected acts, with something for almost everyone in terms of performer and genre. Designed to appeal to a wide range of ages and tastes, "All Access" brings together several generations of musicians: B.B. King in an amazing rendition of "Rock Me Baby" with hip-hop group the Roots and Phish's Trey Anastasio; Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty in a live version of "Smooth"; Al Green backed by the Dave Matthews Band before a massive Chicago crowd doing "Take Me to the River"; Mary J. Blige joining George Clinton in a medley of Parliament-Funkadelic hits; Sting and rai singer Cheb Mami performing "Desert Rose."

Many concert-goers in the cheaper seats watch what look like tiny action figures on a faraway stage. "All Access" takes them close -- close enough to see every nick and dent on the guitars and every bead of sweat.

For people who like great guitar playing, the chance to see B.B. King or Carlos Santana's fingers fly across the frets on this scale will be particularly exciting.

And "All Access" gives that state-of-the-art sound system in the Omnimax theater a good workout -- the digital sound is better than what you'd hear live in many cases.

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