Madonna-The Girlie Show Live Down Under (1993)

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Released 14-Sep-1998

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 112:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Mark Miceli
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Madonna
Case Super Jewel
RPI $39.95 Music Madonna


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    This is the second live Madonna show Warner Vision have released, the other being Ciao Italia. I remember that this concert, staged in Sydney, was quite a media event back in 1993, with front row ticket prices going well into three digits, and conservative lobby groups denouncing the debauched nature of Madonna's stage performance. It was all a bit of a dog's breakfast, with the artist and capacity crowd emerging unscathed through it all.

    The concert itself is perhaps a better representation of Madonna than Ciao Italia, which as mentioned in my earlier review, suffers a terminal case of the 1980s. Contemporary Madonna is in full swing here, with everything from the fetishistic posturing of Erotica and Fever, to the good time party girl favourites Holiday and Express Yourself. For me the highlight of the concert was the performance of Fever, Erotica, and Vogue, all of which feature mesmerizing choreography. But, all in all, The Girlie Show Live Down Under presents a diverse cross-section of Madonna songs together with a more palatable 1990s image that should age more gracefully than her 80s era persona. Of course, Madonna fans will want to grab all of these releases, but if you're more discerning, The Girlie Show, with its optional discrete 5.1 channel surround track and more elaborate stage design, is the Madonna concert DVD of choice.

    In my review of Ciao Italia I mistakenly lamented the exclusion of my favourite Madonna song Like a Prayer from the playlist. As it was pointed out to me later (thanks Natalie), that song was recorded on an album released after that concert tour ran. I do, however, repeat that statement for this concert!

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Track Listing

1. Introduction/Girlie Show Theme
2. Erotica
3. Fever
4. Vogue
5. Rain
6. Express Yourself
7. Deeper And Deeper
8. Why It's So Hard
9. In This Life
10. The Beast Within
11. Like A Virgin
12. Bye Bye Baby
13. I'm Going Bananas
14. La Isla Bonita
15. Holiday
16. Justify My Love
17. Everybody Is A Star/Everybody

Transfer Quality

Video

    Although this concert is presented full frame, it is quite obviously composed for either a theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, or 1.78:1 for widescreen broadcast in Europe. If you have a 16x9 TV, feel free to zoom the image to get the widescreen composition, which looks better than the overly spacious full frame presentation. I could not tell for sure whether the concert was shot on film or video. Given the character of the picture, video seems more likely.

    Sharpness was fine before I zoomed the image. Afterwards, it suffered a small degree of diffusion, but not to the point of revealing line structure or introducing an inordinate amount of aliasing. The lack of punch and fine resolution seems to indicate a video source, although like previous Warner Vision titles, no effort appears to have been made to remaster these titles for DVD, therefore a judgement is hard to make. Shadow detail was fair.

    Colours were rendered adequately. The saccharine lighting and garish costumes exhibited a satisfying level of saturation, with minimal bleed and no noticeable noise, at least before I zoomed the image. Quick pans sometimes left a trail of colour, a symptom perhaps of the night-time cinematography/videography. Skin tones were accurate.

    An absence of film artefacts also implied a video source, and I noticed no major compression artefacts beyond what appeared to be some very minor cross-colour rainbows.

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

Audio

    The Girlie Show Live Down Under was one of the first (if not the first) concert DVDs released in region 4 with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. While the audio upgrade is not on par with the meticulous Stop Making Sense remix, it adds value to a DVD that would have sounded merely ordinary. A Dolby stereo track is also available. One assumes that this is the original concert mix released on VHS.

    Across the front sound stage separation is quite good, with each individual instrument easily heard in the mix. Imaging is less impressive, though -- I suspect that the centre speaker posed problems for the sound engineers, who would have made decisions based on what constituted a 'typical' home surround set up. The other problem with concert videos is that the on-screen camera set ups are not always a static left-to-right view of the stage. Technically the position of the instruments in the mix should correspond to the camera position. But, this is over-intellectualizing the point.

   The surrounds are used well to create the illusion of watching the concert surrounded by an audience. Certain aspects of the instrumentation, reverbs and the like, also reach back behind the viewer to enhance the effect. Madonna's vocals were clear and discernible at all times from the centre speaker. And while the snare also barked sharply from its middle spot, bass drum and bass guitar notes were not as tight and punchy as I would have liked. On the other hand, the audio was probably designed to simulate a looser live sound, rather than a tight, unnatural studio variation. Still, more oomph would have been nice. To compensate for personal tastes I simply turned up the subwoofer volume.

    The stereo version of the concert, located on the flip side of the DVD, was less immersive and the fidelity and less apparent than on the discrete channel mix, although bass notes were slightly beefier. The rating apply to the 5.1 soundtrack on side 1.

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

Extras

    No extras are present.

Menus

    Silent, static, non-anamorphic.

R4 vs R1

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

    It appears that the R1 and R4 program content is the same.

Summary

    The Girlie Show Live Down Under is an extravagant and entertaining concert, with the added bonus of being shot in Australia. Was "Down Under" chosen as the filming location for its sexual connotations? The opening 15 minutes of the show leaves little doubt!

    This DVD is a another solid yet straight-forward package from Warner Vision. The video quality is quite good, and a Dolby Digital 5.1 live concert mix is always interesting to hear, both for what it does and does not (cannot) accomplish. A future 16x9 enhanced edition would be nice given that this is a widescreen presentation in disguise.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rod Williams (Suss out my biography if you dare)
Wednesday, November 15, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDMarantz DV-7000 (European model), using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Ergo (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder.
AmplificationArcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier
SpeakersFront: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)

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