Asia-Live in Moscow 1990 (1991)

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Released 9-Feb-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Audio & Animation
Reversible Cover
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 65:58
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Patrick Kelly
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring John Wetton
Carl Palmer
Geoff Downes
Pat Thrall
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Asia


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The 1970s and 1980s seemed to be a period in popular music when the "supergroup" concept reached its zenith - at least in popularity. Artistically things were not quite so clear cut. Nonetheless, the 1980s in particular saw the supergroups produce megatours in major arenas that often reached new bombastic heights in theatrical presentation. They made big money, sold merchandise by the bus loads (this was perhaps the start of the big merchandise push during concert tours as bands tried every way possible to generate the huge dollars needed to keep these mega-shows on the road) and tended to highlight the fact that the music simply did not translate well to the concert arena. Why? Simple - most of those supergroups relied on heavy post-production to get their records sounding just right and that never was easy to reproduce on the concert stage, in venues designed for sports, not music.

    Thinking about it, Asia were the epitome of this sort of supergroup. Combining elements of Yes, King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer (through a few other bands along the way no doubt), they roared into the charts with a couple of big selling records and went out on the road. They seemed to disappear without much trace after a reasonably successful, if not entirely long, career. I indulged in their albums, and played loud they were certainly excellent efforts, albeit let down just a tad by the lack of consistency in the song writing. I still enjoy dragging out their debut album and playing it loud.

    Which makes the concert presentation here all the more disappointing.

    All that they managed to put into the albums is simply not present in this concert and the passage of time has also not been kind to the band themselves (John Wetton hits some rather wobbly notes towards the end of the concert). Still, the Russian audience obviously enjoyed themselves in the Olympic Stadium - but then again why not? Recorded in November, 1990 it would have been very cold outside and so being inside had to be a bonus, and lets face it - life was not exactly a bunch of roses in the former Soviet Union at the time.

    This is not the greatest concert you will ever hear, even if you know Asia well and remember some of those big singles they had. The presentation, too, leaves something to be desired with the concert songs being interspersed with what is presumably interview material recorded at the time for Russian television. Add into the mix the fact that one of the songs (Prayin' For A Miracle) is actually a video clip and not from the concert and it soon becomes quite apparent that the barely more than an hour's worth of video does not exactly constitute a bargain.

    Overall, a disappointing concert that is presented on a DVD that probably suits...

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Track Listing

1. Only Time Will Tell
2. Sole Survivor
3. Baby Blue
4. Days Like These
5. Rendezvous
6. The Heat Goes On
7. Book Of Saturday
8. Prayin' For A Miracle
9. Go
10. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
11. Open Your Eyes
12. Heat Of The Moment

Transfer Quality

Video

    The concert was filmed on video tape in a Full Frame format. Much of what ails the entire presentation can be placed fairly on the fact that it was shot on video tape, and not very well at that.

    This is really a drab looking effort at times that starts off in a quite average way and gets progressively worse. Indeed, at times the audience vision is so appalling you don't quite understand why they bothered including it in the programme - you can barely see anything at all. Broadly speaking, this is a soft to very soft image that exudes very average definition and detail throughout. The source material is certainly to blame here and not the mastering process. I would say that I have seen better looking VHS tapes than this. Shadow detail at times gets to be quite dire and never rises above below average. Clarity is decent enough at times but equally drops off to terrible on the odd occasion.

    Yes, this is supposed to be colour but you would hardly know it at times. Woefully undersaturated, the colours really are quite poorly defined. Lacking anything in the way of vibrancy there is a really drab look to proceedings at times, which of course makes the sudden burst of oversaturation in the red lighting at 56:11 all the more obvious. By their very nature, concert videos are a problem to handle well colour-wise, but even by the lower standards of the genre, this is an especially poor-looking effort.

    Given that the source material appears to lack a lot in the way of definition, there are hardly any substantial ways in which other problems could be highlighted. There are no obvious MPEG artefacts, the only issue with film-to-video artefacts is some minor aliasing here and there (that will not unduly worry any but the most anally retentive) and as the concert was filmed on video, there are no film artefacts. There is however some static interference in the tape, most notably at the very top of the image (which may or may not be hidden by the extent of overscan on your system).

    This is a single layered, single sided DVD and so there is no layer change to worry about.

    There are no subtitles on the DVD, although the interview material with the band does have burned in subtitles, presumably in Russian.

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

Audio

    There are three soundtracks on the DVD. The galling thing is that I had to listen to two of the terrible things in their entirety for review purposes. The third I only had to sample, even if it was the best effort on the DVD - probably because there is less opportunity to stuff up in two channels than there are in six channels. The available options are what is rapidly becoming the standard on music DVDs: an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English dts 5.1 soundtrack.

    None of the soundtracks exhibited any problems with audio sync. The source material for this concert would appear to have been of quite average quality and that seems to carry over into the remixing. There just seems to be a general lack of definition in the sound.

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack might sound somewhat wimpish in comparison to the six channel efforts, but on the premise that the source material is not the best, this is by far and away the best soundtrack on the DVD - at least on the sampling I made. Sure it has no surround encoding and there is no bass information, but the vocals are much better balanced in the overall mix and the result is at least likely to permit the viewer to indulge in the music in something that might approach an enjoyable manner.

    Which is more than can be said for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Aside from the fact that there seemed to be little evidence of any rear channel use, giving the soundtrack a distinctly 3.1 feel to it, the problems with this soundtrack are fairly obvious. Basically the mixing is not at all good, with the bass too forward in the mix and with at times horrendously too much reverb that all-in-all does its level best to drown out the somewhat recessed vocals. This is not how music is supposed to be mixed as far as I am concerned. Just to make for an even weirder feel, at times the bass goes AWOL, leaving a wholly wimpish sounding effort that would barely register as having more body than a contender for Mr Puniverse. There is at times a distinct lack of definition to the sound, too. A wholly disappointing effort that does the music no justice whatsoever and makes for some rather hard listening.

    This is a trait that it shares with what might well be the worst sounding dts soundtrack it has ever been my misfortune to listen to. In common with the Dolby Digital six channel effort, this too seems to have lost the rear channels and has a distinctly front and centre sound that is wholly unsatisfying. One of the great aspects of dts sound is the definition and encompassing bass that gives a great body to the sound. Well, this has body but I cannot say it is great and the definition is truly terrible. Everything just seems to blast out of the front three channels without any thought as to the placement of the instruments - the keyboards should be emphasised in the right channel and the lead guitar in the left for instance, with the bass guitar and vocals in the centre if you want to get a true concert experience. Not here and so of course we do not get a true concert experience. One of the main contributors to this is the fact that the bass seems to be heavily focussed to the centre channel for some reason. Add into the equation some positively wimpish mixing of the vocals and this is even worse in many ways than the aforementioned disappointing Dolby Digital six channel effort.

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

Extras

    Well, if you call what may be an unintentional reversible cover an extra I suppose it has something.

Menu

Reversible Cover

R4 vs R1

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

    As far as can be ascertained there is nothing fundamentally different between any Region release of this DVD. However, the Region 1 release does come with a bonus CD which would seem to make it the version of choice.

Summary

    Move along, nothing to see here. Well, that might be a bit savage but this truly is an unspectacular presentation in every way and unless you are a seriously hardcore Asia fan there really is nothing worthwhile here to indulge in. During the entire viewing session I knew that my review would keep on coming back to the same issue: just how average the DVD is. Poor source material, of a significantly too short concert, combined with some lousy examples of surround channel sound ensure that, at least at the indicated asking price, this is a complete non-starter. If you want some decent music DVDs, there are considerably more better than this than there are worse than this.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Saturday, January 31, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, 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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