Earls Court, London performances
Studio: CMV 07464541719 ( 2 DVDs)
Video: 4:3 color
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 mix at either 448 kbps or 640 kbps, Dolby stereo mix with Qsound
Extras: Two music videos, Bootlegging the Bootleggers, Say Goodbye to Life as We Know It, Wish You Were Here with Billy Corgan, Photo gallery, Tour stuff
Length: 4 hours, incl. 145 min. of the main concert
This DVD set quickly racked up the best first week’s sales of any music DVD in history in the U.S. And it’s understandable – this is one of the world’s most influential rock bands, with a wide spectrum of fans – including audiophiles who treasure various versions of their seminal album Dark Side of the Moon as the quintessential trippy rock experience. The band is not only terrific musically, with often intelligent and moving lyrics, but both halves of this lengthy performance show off to best advantage their all-stops-out spectacular visual effects. The major attraction here is the first ever filming of Dark Side of the Moon in performance – on the second DVD in the package. Some of the original screen films which were designed for the 1970s concert performances of DSOTM were resurrected for this event, and the set and lighting designs were remade for the 1994 tour. Three tunes in the first half with filmed projections are Shine On You Crazy Diamond, High Hopes, and Learning to Fly. There is also a giant arch over the stage with many lasers and other lights, and some quite amazing lighting effects in perfect sync with the music.
The DSOTM portion is an entirely different set with a large circular screen at top center onto which the screen films are back-projected. Some of the images are straightforward illustrations of the music, such as the money images for Money, but others are very powerful artistic statements, such as the antiwar message in the final Eclipse section. The audience doesn’t let the band go after that one, but brings them back for a series of three encores. The video portion is excellent, and though 4:3 expands well to 16:9, but the surround mixes are the real gas here. I wasn’t able to hear much surround effect from the Qsound stereo mix, probably because my left and right front speakers should be closer together for proper results of that pseudo-surround technology which the Floyd has used on previous albums. What is really interesting is the option to select a higher-res. Dolby 5.1 mix if you player can handle it. The choice is between 448 kbps and 640 kbps, and the 640 definitely sounded cleaner, providing a more transparent surround field, and with an extended high end. My top-of-line Pioneer player refused to play it, but it worked fine on the Oppo 970 HD. Creative use of the surround channels has actuality voices occasionally coming from there, as well as various sound effects.
The Bootlegging extra seemed to be created from footage shot by fans using video cams given to them at the concert, but the constant shakiness of the shots made me seasick, to be frank. Both music videos are superbly done; I’d only seen one before. The tour and backstage stuff will please many Floyd fans. They include maps, stage plans, cover art of Floyd albums, and a TV commercial. There’s even a section on setup of your surround system. The color booklet features a “site map” showing the flow from one option to another on each of the two DVDs, and using it I discovered there are alternate versions of five of the screen films, including one which is all animation. David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright are seen and heard at their best on this smash of a package which is sure to raise the Pulse of their fans!
Tunes – Concert Part 1: Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Learning to Fly, High Hopes, Take It Back, Coming Back to Life, Sorrow, Keep Talking, Another Brick in the Wall (Pt. 2), One of These Days.
Concert Part 2 (DSOTM): Speak To Me, Breathe in the Air, On the Run, Time, The Great Gig in the Sky, Money, Us and Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse, Wish You Were Here, Comfortably Numb, Run Like Hell.
– John Henry