Siouxsie and the Banshees-The Seven Year Itch Live (2002)

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Released 18-Aug-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Backstage Budgie (9:53)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Getting Ready To Scratch (6:31)
Booklet
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 88:01 (Case: 87)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:05) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Nick Wickham
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Siouxsie Sioux
Steven Severin
Budgie
Knox Chandler
eX-Girl
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Siouxsie And The Banshees


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (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 English 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

    I am certainly no fan of Siouxsie And The Banshees, and am firmly of the belief that they are a B-list act only. Even at their peak they really did nothing of any great note as far as I am concerned, even though I did much admire their song Hong Kong Gardens. However, this DVD had been hanging around the Unallocated DVD pile for a few weeks and so I decided to take the plunge.

    A product of the punk era, Siouxsie And The Banshees had something of a hard, impenetrable edge to their music that distinguished them from many of their contemporaries. They were certainly a band that made no comprises in their vision and you either loved them or hated them - there really was no middle ground with this band. Despite their uncompromising nature and their vision, they were not a band that burned brightly for a short time and burned out. Rather, that nature saw them survive as a band for about twenty years, albeit with a fair few changes in personnel. However, even that did not prevent the inevitable in 1996 when the demise of the band was announced. Like many acts of the 1970's and 1980's though, there never is really a demise and that old urge to go out and rip-off the fans one more time in the name of nostalgia is ever-present.

    And so it was for Siouxsie And The Banshees when they returned to the road for their Seven Year Itch tour (the name obviously deriving from the length of time that they had not been on the road). With the original members - Siouxsie Sioux (real name Susan Dallion), Budgie (real name Peter Clarke) and Steve Severin - joined by Knox Chandler, this however turns out to be less of a rip-off for old times sake and more a case of some genuinely hungry musicians going out to offer some of the gems from their early years (mainly) in a d*** fine performance.

    I might not be a fan of the band but I sure can appreciate the performance that the band puts on here. That same old uncompromising nature is always present but when the result is something as good as this, then just live with that uncompromising nature! Whilst predominantly for fans of the band, those with a more inquisitive nature to their musical tastes will probably find much to admire here from a performance point of view.

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Track Listing

1. Pure
2. Jigsaw Feeling
3. Metal Postcard
4. Red Light
5. Happy House
6. Christine
7. Lullaby
8. Lands End
9. Cities in Dust
10. I Could Be Again
11. Icon
12. Night Shift
13. Voodoo Dolly
14. Spellbound
15. Blue Jay Way
16. Monitor
17. Peek-A-Boo

Transfer Quality

Video

    Interestingly, the review session for this DVD was originally started on my old television, and was given up after the resultant headache started. I went back to the DVD after installation of my new television. Some of the initial comments made on my old television (using S-Video input) simply did not hold water on my new television (using RGB input). It just goes to show that equipment and setup does matter - so always read reviews taking note of the setup the DVD was reviewed on.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. And very nice it is too, after taking into account the obligatory warnings regarding live concert performances, lighting, poor focus and so on.

    Whilst there are occasional places of a slightly softish image, in general this is a quite sharp and reasonably well detailed transfer - allowing for the intense stage lighting that does wash out detail quite readily, as well as screwing up the contrast a tad. However, this does not detract from the overall presentation at all and whilst not the best concert video I have ever seen, it is pretty d*** good. There is thankfully no evidence of low level noise in the image at all, and the grain is light and barely an issue. Shadow detail is not the best but then again it rarely is in concert videos is it? Clarity is very good and that really helps lift the overall video image enormously.

    The colours are very good in general, very vibrant and quite well defined throughout - despite the effects of the stage lighting. Obviously blacks could do with being a heck of a lot more solid but the trade off is that even the intense stage lighting (especially the red) barely scrapes into the oversaturation scale at all. It should be noted that using S-Video the oversaturation was a minor issue at 13:36 and 22:10 but barely so with RGB. There is not any indication of colour bleed throughout the transfer.

    There are no obvious MPEG artefacts in the transfer, whilst film-to-video artefacts were similarly barely obvious at all. There are just the odd places where some very, very minor aliasing could be noted - but you would have to be looking hard to see them. There are no film artefacts in the transfer at all.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change being about as obvious as it can be at 57:05. Given the inherent problems in trying to locate a layer change in a concert video I suppose that it is not that bad, even though rather noticeable just before the end of a song just before the audience noise. Couldn't it have waited a few more seconds and come during the audience noise?

    There is one subtitle option on the DVD, although this is something of a misnomer. Its only function is to provide a translation for a few lines of German spoken by Siouxsie Sioux as a song intro. If you were looking for lyric subtitles you would be sorely disappointed.

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

Audio

    The DVD features the almost obligatory three soundtracks so common to most music DVDs: an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English dts 5.1 soundtrack. I would like to say that I listened to all three soundtracks in their entirety but unfortunately the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is so bad that I was unable to listen to anything more than enough to know that it gave me a serious headache. Okay, I know I hate overemphasis of bass and I know that my view is way out of step with the few reviews I can find of this particular disc, but unless you really are a bass freak, I would humbly suggest that this Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack will not suit your aural palette at all. The consolation is that the Dolby Digital 2.0 track is wonderful and the dts 5.1 an absolutely terrific effort

    Notwithstanding the inherent problem of thumping bass drowning out the vocal track on the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the vocals are otherwise fairly well handled and are normally intelligible. There appears to be no problems with audio sync in the transfer.

    The default track on the DVD is the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and in all respects it is a very, very nice effort. Obviously lacking any sort of low frequency channel input, the sound is really clean and clear. This is rather important as the band's music can be a little dense at times and any muddying that the engineering might introduce is not going to do the music any good at all. About the only concern that I have about this soundtrack is that at times the vocals could have been just a tad more prominent in the mix, but otherwise this is a fine way to listen to this music, just not as fine a way to listen as the dts 5.1 soundtrack...

    There have been some good examples of this sort of track on DVD before but this really is something special. With just about a perfect level of bass for this music mixed into the overall soundtrack, the result is just loaded with presence as well as a clarity that is almost jaw-droppingly good. The surround encoding is quite superb and the overall feel of the soundtrack is very much "being there". The rear surrounds have been very well used to carry audience ambience such that you really do feel as if you are there and can hear this all going on around you. Indeed, so good is this surround soundtrack that I am actually listening to the music as I write this review: no mean feat since I am not a fan of the band. It is simply that the music comes so very much to life with this superb soundtrack.

    Which of course makes it all the more unfathomable that the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is such a complete and unmitigated disaster. Quite simply, the bass has been mixed here far too prominently in the mix. The result is certainly very loud, headache-inducingly so, with the bass overpowering not just the vocals but also the instruments. The surround encoding is very poor, with limited use of the rears in any real way, and everything dominated by the bass. This is a rare occasion where the soundtrack is simply so bad that I could not suffer more than twenty minutes or so of it, the result being a review session that was punctuated by frequent trips away from the DVD.

    Note the audio ratings given below are ignoring the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack - were it to be considered there would be way more red stars than green stars.

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

Extras

    Well at least there is something, and whilst it looks a decent enough package on paper the reality is that it is hardly the most worthwhile effort you will ever see. Given the available space on this DVD, there could at least have been some interview material with Siouxsie herself, a full discography perhaps, maybe a bonus video or three, or even an interview with Budgie to find out how he got the name?

Menu

    Actually rather nicely done, with some decent audio and animation enhancement to boot.

Featurette - Backstage Budgie (9:53)

    A mindless meandering through the backstage area of the Shepherd's Bush Empire by Budgie, whilst support act eX-Girl were doing their sound checks. Whilst the man is quite an amiable bloke, there really is nothing much to raise this out of a ten minute waste of space. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, it is 16x9 enhanced and it comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Technically there is nothing wrong with what we are given.

Featurette - Getting Ready To Scratch (6:31)

    Six odd minutes of video showing the band in preparation for the gig. Rather restrained stuff as befitting some professionals doing their job. Somewhat boring as a result with nothing really conveyed about the band and their music at all. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, it is 16x9 enhanced and it comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. There is some aliasing present around 3:46 and the overall presentation is a little grainy but otherwise quite acceptable stuff.

Booklet

    An entirely useless eight page effort with a few photos and five paragraphs of text. Inadequate in every possible way.

R4 vs R1

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

    From what I can determine, the Region 1 release appears to be very much the same as the Region 4 (and Region 2) release in content. However, reviews of the Region 1 release are not easy to find and DVD Empire lists the format as1.33:1. If that is correct, then Region 4 is the way to go.

Summary

    Whilst Siouxsie And The Banshees were never a band that really did much for me, I was not unaware of them and certainly much admired Hong Kong Gardens when it was released. The band however always struck me as a definite B-list one only and rarely did anything to change that perception. As such Siouxsie And The Banshees - The Seven Year Itch Live really is not the sort of thing I would return to again. However, for fans of the band this is about as good as it can get. Better than adequate video (albeit with the usual caveat emptor regarding live music performances) and two really superb soundtracks more than make up for a shocking Dolby Digital surround soundtrack and an inadequate extras package. If the music is to your taste - indulge and enjoy.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. 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

Other Reviews
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