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Music DVD Review: Chantal – Live at the Pyramids

Chantal Chamandy was born in Egypt to Greek and Lebanese parents, so the combination of culture within the young woman was immediately apparent. Her family moved to Montreal and she grew up there always wanting to return to Egypt someday. Now, as a singer/songwriter, Chantal does just that with a troupe of her own musicians and the Cairo Symphony. The results are eclectic, elegant, and stunningly beautiful.

The concert was the first live concert to ever be filmed for international TV broadcast and DVD sale at the root of the Sphinx in Egypt. With the Great Pyramids of Giza as a backdrop, Chamandy’s concert is an elegant blend of colour and sound. The sizeable production is clear from the moment the first notes of “Salma ya Salama” pour over the audience.

Chamandy is quite a good singer, but she does not have the strength or range of a Sarah Brightman, whose music and concerts I kept thinking of throughout Live at the Pyramids. Chamandy is a basic pop singer and her songs are rather ordinary in melody and lyric, especially the English-language tunes. Where she shines as an artist is in her ability to connect the simplicity of her music and lyrics to a broad audience.

Chantal does just that on this concert DVD. The experience her concert provides is an impressive one, from the gorgeous setting to the sumptuous set design and lighting. There are several dancers and plenty of theatrics to accompany the music, which brings more depth to the songs than a simple radio or iPod listen would supply. Chantal’s visual style connects her to the audience and to her surroundings, making her a performer and not just a pop singer.

Chamandy also displays her ability to shift from one tone to another throughout the entire concert. Marked by several wardrobe changes, she moves unreservedly from the mischievous “You Want Me” to the delicate balladry of “Feels Like Love” without missing a beat. Many moments of the concert revel in sensuality, too, particularly “Truth or Dare,” which sounds rather like a James Bond-theme song. The way Chamandy moves with her dancers is worth the price of admission alone.

Live at the Pyramids is filmed well, with French director Gerard Pullicino at the helm. Pullicino has produced and directed shows for Madonna, Joe Cocker, and Celine Dion. His camerawork is adept and never pompous. He knows how to capture Chantal’s splendour and capitalizes on it with various slow-motion shots and plenty of camera angles. Pullicino’s direction captures the scope of the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx, too, although sometimes they are too obscured by the bright lights of the stage.

Along with the 90-minute concert, the DVD features 115 minutes of extras that detail “the journey” that the concert took before its production. The piece details the creation of the show, the extensive preparation process, and various other aspects of Chamandy’s groundwork. Chantal also explains her intentions with the performance as emphasizing a sense of togetherness and optimism through music.

All in all, this is a pretty good concert DVD.

Chantal Chamandy is a talented performer with a good connection to her audience and to the theatrics on stage. She works well with the dancers, sings well enough and provides more than enough entertainment through the concert. She looks marvellous and the setting of the concert can’t be beat for exotic appeal. Live at the Pyramids is a solid concert DVD for those interested in world music with pop flavour.

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