Heart-Alive in Seattle (2002)

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Released 4-Aug-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Audio
Gallery-Photo-(3:38)
Notes
Credits
Easter Egg-Interview with Ann and Nancy Wilson (8:35)
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 102:45
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:57) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Dave Diomedi
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Ann Wilson
Nancy Wilson
Scott Olson
Mike Inez
Ben Smith
Tom Kellock
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Heart


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English dts 5.0 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Back in the 1970's, a band emerged out of the Seattle rock scene that really were a bit strange. Led by two sisters, this band was playing some bizarrely anti-rock semi-acoustic guitar based music that really seemed an ill fit for the times. However, this band must have had something going for it because they turned out a bunch of well received albums, had a few hit singles and garnered themselves a rather large fan base. Of course, it did not hurt that those two sisters, Ann and Nancy Wilson, were two d*** fine looking women. Indeed, more than the odd youngster of the period would probably admit to a crush on one of the Wilson sisters. For the record, mine was Ann...

    To merely dismiss Heart as just a couple of good looking chicks offering ready made marketing would be very, very wrong. Ann Wilson has one of the best voices out there amongst the female rock fraternity, and despite an occasional propensity to scream rather than sing (a la Jimmy Barnes), she can belt out a genuine rocker equally well as crooning a soft acoustic ballad. Nancy Wilson is no slouch with a guitar either and together they strove hard to achieve the sort of success they enjoyed in the 1970's and 1980's, when they really were a radio staple. Their debut album in 1976 (Dreamboat Annie - rumoured for release on DVD-Audio, which I eagerly await) spent nearly two years on the US charts and peaked at #7. The 1977 follow up Little Queen was not quite as successful, not quite lasting out a year on the US charts and only peaking at #9. Dog & Butterfly (1978, #17), Magazine (1978, #17 - actually was recorded in 1976), Bebe Le Strange (1980, #5), Greatest Hits Live (1980, #13), Private Audition (1982, #25), Passionworks (1983, #39), Heart (1985, #1 and certified 5 times platinum), Bad Animals (1987, #2), Brigade (1990, #3), Rock The House Live (1991, #107), Desire Walks On (1993), and The Road Home (1995) followed. Like many a band from the era, they sort of dropped out of public view in the 1990's although the band never officially disbanded. Nancy went off to become Mrs Cameron Crowe, whilst Ann battled a weight problem. Like many a band too, the absence from the public arena and recording held a lure that was hard to beat and so the girls went back on the road. This is a recording of the final date on their 2002 tour of America, played at Seattle's Paramount Theater. Since they consider Seattle their home town, the gig obviously has special meaning and it shows in the concert.

    With a minimalist stage setting by modern standards, the band wanders its way through a fair collection of old and new material. The old classics like Crazy On You, Barracuda, Dog & Butterfly, These Dreams (in a lovely acoustic version) and Magic Man sound as good as the day they were first heard and mix well with the newer stuff such as Sister Wild Rose, Break The Rock and The Two Faces Of Eve. The obligatory Led Zeppelin songs also make an appearance, just to make sure that you know they can cover songs with the best of them. Nancy Wilson still looks as good as ever and plays the guitar as well as ever, whilst Ann Wilson has certainly lost none of her vocal skills.

    A CD compilation was released a couple of months back called The Essential Heart (part of a rather successful series put out by Sony Music), and like the CD incarnations of all the albums listed above was immediately added to my CD collection. Not just added really but being flogged to death on my car CD-changer. And why not, for returning to the music of Heart after quite a few years absence only seemed to confirm just how d*** good their music is. They have always been a little bit special in concert, and this DVD really shows that. This ranks as one of the best live concert shows I have seen on DVD.

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

Track Listing

1. Crazy on You
2. Sister Wild Rose
3. The Witch
4. Straight On
5. These Dreams
6. Mistral Wind
7. Alone
8. Dog and Butterfly
9. Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
10. Battle of Evermore
11. Heaven
12. Magic Man
13. Two Faces of Eve
14. Love Alive
15. Break the Rock
16. Barracuda
17. Wild Child
18. Black Dog
19. Dreamboat Annie

Transfer Quality

Video

    Whoever was responsible for this transfer and mastering should immediately be arrested and placed into custody on the charge of creating a nuisance. Their work on this DVD has surely demonstrated that most of the music DVDs we have seen thus far are certainly not up to the mark, and this serves to embarrass those who have come before. In just about every respect this blows away nearly every music DVD I have ever seen.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and the transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    You know how I always seem to start music DVD reviews with the obligatory warnings of the nature of the source material being affected by various factors... I don't need to here, at all. Fact is, this transfer shows that we should not have to expect any sort of inherent problems in music DVD - period. This is a beauty! Sharp, beautifully detailed, very nicely vibrant, crystal clear - there really is nothing bad to say about the transfer in this respect. The old bugbear of flaring stage lighting and the like simply does not exist in this transfer.

    The colours are excellently rendered, with a deep even tone to them. Even when the stage lighting does come into play, it hardly affects the overall standard at all, and certainly does not induce oversaturation issues at all. Indeed, at times the quality on offer here is very much upper echelon stuff to rival the best in feature film transfers.

    There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in the transfer. At one stage it looked like there were going to be no film-to-video artefacting problems in the transfer either, which would have astounded me for a music DVD. Well, eventually some reared their heads: between 35:35 and 43:45 on the one camera angle only, there is some slightly noticeable aliasing in Ann's microphone. That was the extent of the problems. Even Nancy's guitar strings were handled almost perfectly in the transfer. There were no obvious film artefacts in the transfer at all.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD, with the layer change coming rather obviously at 64:57. The usual problems of trying to hide a layer change in a concert were not overcome, and this time the video playback pauses quite noticeably whilst the layer change is negotiated.

    There are no subtitle options on the DVD, which is about the biggest disappointment with the DVD.

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

Audio

    There are three soundtracks available on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and an English dts 5.0 soundtrack. There will no doubt be questions raised in some quarters as to why there is no low frequency channel in the surround soundtracks, but they will not come from me. Since most engineers have no idea how to mix the bass into the overall sound mix, I quite prefer to not have it and enjoy the rest of the music. Sure there are songs where a bit more oomph would have been nice, but in the trade-off stakes, I think we have the better part of the deal in not having that sixth channel (flame-proof suit on)...

    The vocals and banter come up very well in the transfer and everything is clear and easy to understand. There appears to be no problems at all with audio sync.

    The Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack is very good, with the lack of bass being not really noticed. The rear surround encoding is not really overt and there are only a couple of instances where it is noticed. When it is used, such as at 51:50 with the echo vocals in the rear channels, it is quite stunningly effective. Otherwise, it is mainly used for ambience and it does the job pretty well. The front surrounds are well used to spread the sound across the front sound stage and the result is quite impressive in its fidelity. Very nice, very nice.

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is of course nothing in comparison, but from the sample I made there is certainly nothing wrong with it. It is clean and clear.

    The dts 5.0 soundtrack is basically a clone of the Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack - with the one notable difference. It has decidedly more body than the Dolby Digital soundtrack, as well as more surround channel presence especially in the rears. Whilst the rears are still pretty much solely for ambience, they certainly are more obvious and this really helps the overall feel of the concert a lot more than the Dolby Digital soundtrack. It is a nice sound too, with Ann's vocals coming through even better than in the Dolby Digital soundtrack. At the end of the review session, I really cannot say that I missed the low frequency channel at all, but rather just marvelled at the quality of the concert - and that after all is the whole purpose of the DVD.

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

Extras

    Once again, an excellent DVD has been let down by the lack of serious extras. I cannot fathom why we miss out on fundamentals like a full discography and an interview with the ladies. What we have hardly ranks in the essential stakes.

Menu

    With modest audio enhancement, not too bad if a little cluttered with the smallish font size.

Gallery - Photo (3:38)

    A self running show that comprises 44 photos completely lacking any annotation or context.

Notes - Liner Notes

    Eight pages of notes that whilst interesting certainly do not adequately cover the lack of a full blown booklet or an extended interview with the sisters.

Credits

    Well, actually special thanks.

Easter Egg - Interview with Ann and Nancy Wilson (8:35)

    If you care to highlight the heart symbol at the top left of the main menu...

R4 vs R1

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

    There are not a whole heap of reliable reviews of the Region 1 release, but from what I can gather there is nothing significantly different to the Region 4 release.

Summary

    Somewhere in my music collection, you will find every one of their albums on compact disc and even a few still on vinyl - I never could get rid of Little Queen on vinyl and lose that nice album cover. Memories galore were resurrected by this DVD, including ponderings as to whatever happened to the large block-mounted promotional poster I had of that Little Queen album. Man I used to go to sleep every night gazing across at that gorgeous poster... So, you can gather that I would hardly be giving an unbiased opinion of the performance quality here. Musically I may be more than biased but technically I am not, and this is one of the best concert DVDs I have ever seen. If the band is to your taste - or you want to relive those adolescent fantasies - then all I can say is why the heck is this DVD not already in your collection?

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, August 31, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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Comments (Add)
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