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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Erasure-The Tank, the Swan and the Balloon Live! (1992)

Erasure-The Tank, the Swan and the Balloon Live! (1992)

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Released 25-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(25:17)
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 134:10
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:17)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By David Mallet
Mute Film
EMI Music
Starring Vince Clarke
Andy Bell
Case ?
RPI ? Music Erasure

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/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 No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Erasure was the brain child of Vince Clarke, the man behind the technical wizardry of the band. Heavily into electronic, programmed music, in Erasure Vince finally realised the ultimate expression of his music dating back many years. Musically, his career can be traced back to a band called Composition of Sound that he formed in 1979 with a couple of school mates, Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher. Originally guitar based, with Vince providing the vocals, they eventually traded in the guitars for synthesizers and Vince's vocals for those of Dave Gahan.

    The band also changed its name - to Depeche Mode. The rest as they say is history - well almost. Signed to Mute Records, their initial offerings were quality but not really popular - at least until Just Can't Get Enough really set the band on its way. Around that time Vince decided to leave the band as he wanted to pursue his own musical path that seemed to be differing to the path that Depeche Mode were taking.

    Not long after, he hooked up with another school mate in Alison Moyet and formed Yazoo (Yaz to our American friends). Within weeks they were at the top of the charts with the single Only You and soon had an album out that also did well on the charts. With a few more successful singles under their belt, they were being hailed as one of the most original bands around. Another album followed but the band split soon after. That did not stop Vince Clarke who soon had another band called The Assembly in place, with the rather unusual concept of using different vocalists on each single. That idea soon went out the window though, and in late 1985 Vince was at it again in forming another band.

    Andy Bell was selected as vocalist, an album was made and it looked like Erasure was over before it began. Their second album, however, did a lot better - and Erasure have gone on to become one of the longest established and most successful electronic bands of all time.

    I had been a fan of Depeche Mode from the start with the excellent Speak And Spell album, naturally following through with interest in Yazoo and finally got hooked on Erasure. I have been a fan ever since, to the extent that an Erasure album is always very close at hand when music needs to be played. Indeed, some would say that I play them too much but what the heck. Anyway, when this title came up for grabs, you can bet I was on it like a flash. Interestingly though, I have never been a fan of the band in concert, simply because their style of music does not translate well to live performance. That of course might just be me but I have never really been impressed by any live performance I have seen of them (mainly on bootleg tapes).

    This concert was filmed in Manchester in August, 1992 long after the band had abandoned simple jeans and T-shirt as their stage costume. By now, the unchecked fantasies of Andy Bell were to the fore and the concerts took on a more theatrical nature - something that I also hate enormously. So all things considered, even as a fan of the band there was a lot against me liking the video portion of the programme here. And like it I do not.

    However, it does offer a decent mix of songs and heavy duty fans of the band will probably be lapping this up and offering voodoo incantations to ensure my rapid demise. I offer no apologies for the fact that I don't like the concert, especially the over bloated costuming, but even so lament the fact that what we have on offer here is hardly a sterling endorsement of what DVD can offer. This is very much a concert video that will not suit all tastes and one that I would strongly recommend all barring serious fans of the band to preview before plonking down your hard earned cash.

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

Track Listing

1. Intro
2. Siren Song
3. Ship of Fools
4. Chorus
5. Breath of Life
6. Chains of Love
7. Love to Hate You
8. Joan
9. Voulez Vous
10. Take A Chance On Me
11. S.O.S.
12. Lay All Your Love On Me
13. Am I Right?
14. Oh L'Amour
15. Waiting For the Day
16. Heart of Stone
17. Stop!
18. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
19. Who Needs Love Like That
20. Stand By Your Man
21. The Soldier's Return
22. Turns The Love To Anger
23. Star
24. Blue Savannah
25. Over the Rainbow
26. Love is a Loser
27. A Little Respect
28. Home
29. Perfect Stranger
30. Sometimes

Transfer Quality


    Okay, it is a concert video and it was taped way back in 1992. I would hazard a guess that it was shot on video too. So we really cannot expect a terrific transfer - which is good because we certainly don't get one. The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and it is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    There really is not much nice that can be said about the video in any way. From the opening scene which demonstrates some low level noise in the intense blue lighting there is little nice at all to be seen. It is quite soft in definition, such that if you pause the image during playback you really see quite a diffuse image with poorly defined edges to just about everything. Grain is a constant problem throughout the transfer and at times gets quite annoying. Shadow detail is little better than average, and then only because most of the time it does not come into play at all. There is little in the way of clarity in the transfer and despite the at times extravagant costumes worn especially by Andy Bell, the overall image looks rather tired and insipid.

    The colours are overall reasonably disappointing. At times there is so little definition, especially under intense lighting, that the picture is reduced to a Technicolor yawn. Oversaturation is an occasional problem, notably in the intense red lighting around 109:25. There is little in the way of vibrancy and sparkle other than perhaps the songs after the intermission when Andy Bell is wearing a rather striking blue outfit. Blacks lack solidity and colours are slightly inconsistently rendered, but still the overall feeling is probably not that much worse than we would reasonably expect for a concert video of its age.

    There are no obvious or significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Equally there are no obvious film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. Film artefacts are confined to a some rather obvious white specks (well, blobs perhaps is a better description) such as at 128:10, with one or two scratch marks here and there (92:09). There are a number of interference lines in the video at times, suggesting the video origins of the transfer.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming a bit obviously at 62:17. Since it is the perennial bugbear of concert videos, I suppose that it is no worse than most and better than some.

    There are regrettably no subtitle options on the disc, something that is a bit annoying whilst listening to the six channel soundtrack.

    It should be noted that there is a glitch in the transfer at 20:18 - the picture pixelates noticeably to the bottom of the frame and the sound drops out at the same time quite obviously. This may be a rogue issue with this disc - we hope so.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are two soundtracks on the DVD, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 soundtrack. Basically one is rubbish and the other is quite acceptable.

    The rubbish effort - and I am being very polite here - is in fact the default six channel effort. Basically it is utter garbage, an effort that even makes some of those lamentable early Sony Music efforts sound half respectable. Its two main faults are quite obvious - the surround encoding is about the worst I have heard and the vocals are so poorly mixed into the overall sound that at times I could barely hear them. Switching between it and the uncompressed two channel soundtrack on the fly really emphasises how poor the surround sound encoding truly is. It has left the soundtrack floundering in a morass of congestion that basically throttles the vocals completely and leaves no clarity at all. The instrumental sounds barely have any definition to them at times. There is sod all action out of the rear surround channels and I would not be surprised if someone discovered that the front surround channels had been inexplicably mixed into the centre channel rather than the surrounds.

    The overall impression is of a very constricted sound that has no space at all, little clarity and poorish definition - exactly the sort of sound that this music needs to desperately avoid. What the music also needs is some darn good, crisp bass - what it gets is something akin to bass being engineered through the aural equivalent of a pint of Guinness. Yes, the bass is still there but by golly is it fairly diffuse after working its way through that heavy body. At times I was really wishing for some of that early Sony Music thumpingly overpowering bass - at least that was crisp and clear.

    The uncompressed Linear PCM soundtrack on the other hand offers copious amounts of relief after the drudge of listening to the six channel soundtrack. It is comparatively sparkling in comparison, thanks to loads of air in the soundtrack - which really allows the music space within it to be heard properly. The vocals are quite well handled in the overall mix, riding slightly over the instrumental sounds so that at least you can quite clearly hear them. The lack of bass is a bit of a bummer, as it really is an important part of the music of Erasure, but on the plus side everything just sounds so nice and well defined.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Unusually, not only have we been given something in an extras package but it is also contained on a separate DVD in this two DVD set. Given the relative lack of material, it seems a little extravagant to go with a second DVD just for a 25 minute featurette - but it is still way better than nothing at all.


    Although having audio and animation enhancement, I really cannot say these thrilled me that much. Something a little more functional would certainly not have been without merit.

Featurette - Behind The Scenes (25:17)

    Recorded this year, twelve years after the concert itself, this mainly features Andy Bell, Dean Bright (Costume Designer) and Les Child (Choreographer) in interview, with a couple of additional contributions from Vince Clarke and some behind the scenes footage of rehearsals tossed in with some of the concert footage itself. Mildly interesting but with the potential for something really worthwhile being missed. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 but it is not 16x9 enhanced. The sound is Dolby Digital 2.0 at the 192 Kb/s bit rate. There are selectable subtitles in French, German, Spanish and Italian. The technical quality of the interview material is very good, except for that of Vince Clarke which suffers a little from soft definition, whilst the rehearsal footage and concert footage is of average quality at best.

R4 vs R1

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

    I have been unable to locate any reviews of the known releases of this DVD worldwide. However, from the listings on various e-tailer sites it would seem that there is little substantive difference between the Region 1, Region 2 (UK) and Region 4 releases. The Region 2 (UK) release appears to have been released on 22nd November and features the same DVD we have reviewed here. The Region 1 release is a little less easy to pin down but again appears to have been released recently (16th November) and seems to be the same programme that we have here.

    In the absence of any reviews to make a judgment call on the technical quality, I would assume that all releases are similar in quality and therefore you should go with whichever one is the cheapest.


    Whilst a huge fan of the band, I have to confess to having a strong dislike for the sort of showy theatrical style of concert that we find here. It might have gone down well with the gay crowd in attendance, but it simply does nothing for me at all. The nadir of the show was Andy Bell shaking his naked ass at the camera - not a pretty sight at all. In the end I think I enjoyed the DVD more once I turned off the television and just listened to the music. Even so, Erasure's music is very much of the oversampled, programmed type which is very, very difficult to recreate in the concert hall. They succeed reasonably well here but even so, few of the songs actually bore instant recognition with the CD versions with which I am quite familiar. When coupled with one of the most unappealing surround sound mixes that I have ever heard, this really descends into the area of strictly for hard-core fans of the band only. All others would be strongly advised to sample first.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. 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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