Soft Cell-Live in Milan (2002)

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Released 18-Nov-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Interview - 21:05 of the duo talking about past and present
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 89:43 (Case: 105)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:15) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Philip Richardson
Benny Trickett
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Marc Almond
Dave Ball
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Soft Cell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

"Look out from my window view, I've really nothing else to do
Read a book and write a letter, Mother, things are getting better
Watch the mirror count the lines, The battle scars of all the good times
Look around and I can see, A thousand people just like me . . . ."

    Soft Cell - Live in Milan marks the continuation of Marc Almond and Dave Balls' successful reunion after nearly 20 years apart. Formed in 1980 and hailing from the grim industrial north-west of England, their first single success was the Northern Soul dance classic Tainted Love, which became the UK's best selling single of that year. Gaining their name from the double entendre of commercialism bordering on insanity, their distinctive sound of sleazy, electro-pop struck a chord with the futile seekers of fulfilment and personal happiness in the hard-living, hard-drinking, pill-popping, club goers of the 80s. Almond's clear emotive vocals and on-stage drama-queen theatrics translated well to the burgeoning pop video industry whilst the catchy single note melodies of Ball's synthesiser, together with the soft Phil Spector-influenced wall of sound guaranteed a string of hit singles. Most of the better-known Soft Cell songs (Tainted Love, Bedsitter, Say Hello Wave Goodbye) come from their 1981 debut hit album 'Non Stop Erotic Cabaret' and are included in this live set. Included also are Monoculture and Last Chance from their 2002 reunion album Cruelty Without Beauty.

    I enjoyed this show. The reasonably intimate venue of Milan's Rolling Stone venue allows Marc to flirt, pout and tease the audience and the passing years have, if anything, enhanced his good-natured bonhomie and ringing clear vocals. In the meantime, Dave Ball, bear-like, hulks over his keyboards, the perfect Yin to Almond's Yang. Performance-wise Marc is as energetic as ever; manipulated manikin one moment, outrageous flirt the next - but never boring! Music-wise, the two tracks off the last album are more of the same genre, perhaps a little more worldly wise and cynical but still very much Soft Cell.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. Memorobilia
2. Monoculture
3. Heat
4. Divided Soul
5. Last Chance
6. Youth
7. Best Way To Kill
8. The Art of Falling Apart
9. Somebody Sometime
10. Baby Doll
11. Torch
12. Bedsitter
13. Tainted Love
14. Where Did Our Love Go
15. Say Hello Wave Goodbye
16. Martin
17. Sex Dwarf

Transfer Quality

Video

     The video transfer is pretty ordinary and could have been better. It appears from the credits that the feature was filmed in digital video but you wouldn't guess this from the quality on offer.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 but is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer errs on the soft side but with good low level detail and minimal low level noise.

    The colours are shades of brothel red and pink to set the sleazy scene. The transfer is impaired by chroma noise throughout, particularly evident in the frequent colour-drenched dry ice.

    MPEG artefacts are average - there is pixelization evident in some of the shots of the suspended plate backdrops (eg at 15:06). Aliasing is minimal apart from the diagonals on the scaffold lighting tower. There are no film or videotape artefacts.

    There are no subtitles.

    The disc is RSDL with a noticeable pause between Chapters 12 and 13 at 56:15.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio makes up for the ordinary video transfer with quantity of tracks if not showcase quality.

    There are 3 audio tracks, the default being the Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo offering whilst there are also Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 offerings although none of these are encoded at the highest bitrate. The Dolby Digital 2.0 sounded very natural and with good resolution and presence but sounded predictably flat compared to the surround offerings. The DTS version was mixed 2-3 dB hotter than the Dolby Digital but even taking this into account was richer, more dynamic and overall was more pleasurable to listen to. I felt that the surround mixes were missing out on the mid-range and that the overall pick of the bunch was a toss up between the DTS and 2 channel Dolby Digital offerings.

    Almond's vocal clarity is exemplary, which is just as well as it makes up for ~ 45% of the soundstage, and I had no difficulty picking out (and singing along with !) the song lyrics.

    There were no audio synch lapses.

    The surrounds were well utilised to increase the depth of the soundstage with well-mixed crowd noise and reverberation of percussion. No gimmicky effects here!

    The subwoofer was constantly active bumping along with the bass synthesiser line. I felt that overall the mix was a little too bass heavy and benefited from pulling back on the subwoofer gain a few notches

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This is not a big budget production, and this is reflected in the paucity of extras.

Menu

    The main menu features a clip from the performance in the non 16x9 enhanced aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio.

Interview

    Informal and informative 21:05 chat from the duo about how they started, why they split and how they came back together again. Quite entertaining.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The content of the R4 and R1 releases appears identical.

Summary

     This was a good concert. Low key, but it is good to see the pair back in action. Yes, the quality could have been better, but it is heaps better than having nothing at all.

    The video quality is nothing to write home about but is quite watchable.

    The audio quality is reasonable with the DTS offering just taking my vote.

    The extras are limited to a medium length interview.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Saturday, February 22, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDEAD 8000 Pro, using Component output
DisplayNEC MP3. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
Audio DecoderSTR-DB1080. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersML Aeon front. B&W LRC6 Centre. ML Script rear. REL Strata III SW.

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