Top critical review
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A visual let down lifted by Martin Gore and the extras
on 14 November 2010
A hardcore fan's impression of the 2xDVD, first the positives:
+ Audio is fantastic, probably best live audio ever. This based on the PCM stereo track.
+ Martin Gore's voice - I'd say this is also probably better than ever, so rich and warm. All of his songs are highlights to me (we get no less than 7 including the Little soul rehearsal!), both because of his voice, his stage presence (just look at his moves during Jezebel) and the choice of songs, of course. What about another Martin solo tour?
+ Loads of great extras:
> The documentary by Roland Brown is a gem as always.
> Insight is probably my very highlight of the set, so wish I'd got to experience that live.
> The rehearsals - Wrong sounds absolutely amazing, to hear it in such a crisp version without the audience, with Dave Gahan's voice almost as good as on the studio version, wow!
> Sister of night - never thought I'd get to hear this live in a full band version, again so wish I'd been there myself.
> Screens and Sounds of the universe videos - good to have them there, although they're not very exciting (also, there should have been the option to "play all")
+ We've been spoiled with digipaks for the DMDVDs and this is no exception, the slipcase is even embossed this time (the Blu-ray case sure looks dull in comparison).
+ Although they may feel a bit redundant with the PCM stereo track also on the DVD, the CDs are a nice bonus as the audio is what's really good about the main feature - actually, many songs seem to get better if you just listen to them without getting distracted by the video, see below.
Then to the negatives:
- The filming/direction of the concert - to me, there's no doubt this is their visually worst live DVD yet. My main memories is out of focus shots, long distance shots, arms in the way of the camera and close ups of Dave's tattoos, Martin's guitar etc, while we almost NEVER get any facial close-ups of neither Dave nor Martin when they sing! Also, the video screen creates some very disturbing effects from certain angles, guess it's something to do with the frequency of that compared to the cameras, it's like a circular "ghost" pattern moving on the screen which makes the video quality feel very low. (Or may this be an DVD issue only, not present on the Blu-ray?)
- The setlist/versions - no matter how great the audio is nothing can change the fact that this was their most uninspired tour ever, relying almost solely on played to death 86>93 material. On top of that the DVD was shot when 3 of the few highlights (Peace, Master and servant, Strangelove) had been dropped - the fact that the only songs from the main set not to have featured on any of the previous 3 live DVDs are the 5 from Sound of the universe + Dressed in black (acoustic, of course) really tells it all. May be good if you've never experienced a DM live DVD before and prefer the old material, but for the rest of us, it's just a repetition of past merits.
- Dave's voice is a disappointment, being very flat, just listen to Fly on the windscreen or Wrong. As I remember from the shows I was at, he sounded much better, maybe he had some problems with his throat when this was recorded?
- DVD is NTSC only, meaning 18% of the vertical resolution is lost, add to that the 2.25:1 format and the image gets even smaller.
- Hole to feed and 2 of the montages are presented in letter-boxed 4:3.
- The booklet consists of low quality screenshots only - if Anton Corbijn wasn't available then why not get another proper photographer?
Overall - visually a big let down, but thanks to Martin Gore and the extras worth getting.