Iron Maiden-Flight 666 (2009)
Menu Animation & Audio
Music Highlights-Complete concert on disc 2 (103min)
|Year Of Production||2009|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Edward T. Head
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
English (Burned In)
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
Much has been lauded (and maligned) of the rock & roll lifestyle over the years. Groupies, drugs and alcohol, backstage shenanigans, outrageous ryder demands, televisions flying out of hotel windows, sexual conquests that would make the most virile rugby league footballer blush, but these stereotypes came about for a reason. The touring and recording cycle that bands go through is an inextricable part of the industry, and while it has improved (arguably) over the years, bands still are forced to spend a considerable amount of time away from home. Metallica have been known to tour for as long as eighteen months at a time, while in the early 1970's it wouldn't have been inconceivable for a band such as Deep Purple to tour Europe and record two classic albums in that same space of time. As Tenacious D stated so aptly in their homage to The Road; "Why can't I stay in the same place for more than two days, why?!". It's a frustrating existence, but a necessary one in this day and age, and it's Iron Maiden's unique approach to their latest tour that forms the focus of this fantastic documentary.
A "world tour" by normal standards would probably encompass a handful of countries in the northern hemisphere, with a significant amount of time spent in North America. This usually takes months to achieve, with significant "down time" between gigs for travelling, or just waiting around. Logistically, it is a complete nightmare having to transport gear of the volume bands of this caliber require each night from one stadium to the next, and overseas. With these challenges in mind, Iron Maiden re-wrote the text book on tours of this magnitude by fitting out their own custom 757 (dubbed Ed Force One) to carry the band, their families, 70 journalists and crew members and twelve tonnes of gear anywhere they fancied. Piloted by none other than their vocalist Bruce Dickinson, he described it himself as "our own personal magic carpet". Magical indeed, their arrangement had the potential to cut down significantly on the dead space between gigs, and could allow them to visit more, further to reach places in much less time. Places particularly eager for a visit from the band, such as Australia and Costa Rica, are now well within reach. As proven in this documentary, this leg of the tour saw the band visit 21 cities in twelve countries with only six weeks away from home. An outstanding achievement.
Flight 666 is directed by Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen of Banger Films, the Canadian-anthropological pair behind such fascinating documentaries as Metal: A Headbangers Journey and Global Metal. Here, their lens is focussed firmly on Iron Maiden, their impending Somewhere Back In Time World Tour, the hilarious characters within and surrounding the band and the amazing logistics behind what is obviously a risky venture. The documentary follows Iron Maiden as they set off in January of 2008, beginning their tour with a show in India, followed by a visit to Australia, which forms a significant portion of the documentary. I was present at gigs both in Melbourne and Sydney last year, the reception from the crowd was awesome and it's fantastic to see them represented on DVD.
While no complete songs are presented uninterrupted during the documentary, this is more than compensated for with disc two; a complete set of songs the band performed on this leg of the tour, each one taken from a different city. The track listing below refers to the content of disc two, but also gives a good idea of the area encompassed by this documentary. The band members performing here are as follows:
Bruce Dickinson - Vocals
Steve Harris - Bass Guitar & Vocals
Adrian Smith - Guitar & Vocals
Dave Murray – Guitar
Janick Gers - Guitar
Nicko McBrain – Drums
Looking past my own tastes and familiarity with Maiden, I can see that as a documentary this is pretty unlikely to satisfy anyone with less than a passing interest in the band, or metal music in general. Granted, it is very well made and provides a fascinating insight into the band, but it doesn't nearly work on the level of Dunn & McFadyen's past work. Having said that, this is simply indispensable to fans, a must have without a doubt.
As an aside note, watch out for the clever nod to Terry Gilliam within the film.
|1. Churchill's Speech (Mumbai, India)|
2. Aces High (Mumbai, India)
3. 2 Minutes To Midnight (Melbourne)
4. Revelations (Sydney, Australia)
5. The Trooper (Tokyo, Japan)
6. Wasted Years (Monterrey, Mexico)
7. The Number Of The Beast (LA, USA)
8. Can I Play With Madness (Mexico)
9. Rime Of The Ancient Mariner (USA)
|10. Powerslave (San Jose, Costa Rica)|
11. Heaven Can Wait (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
12. Run To The Hills (Bogota, Columbia)
13. Fear Of The Dark (Argentina)
14. Iron Maiden (Santiago, Chile)
15. Moonchild (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
16. The Clairvoyant (Curitiba, Brazil)
17. Hallowed Be Thy Name (Canada)
This PAL transfer looks stunning on a big screen and I can imagine it would look substantially better on Blu-ray. The image is 16x9 enhanced and presented in an 1.78:1 aspect ratio.
I saw a screening of this doco at a digital cinema some weeks ago and was floored by the quality of some of the concert footage, particularly the overhead shots of Nicko's drumkit. Obviously, a standard definition DVD transfer isn't going to replicate that kind of detail, but as far as SD video goes this is the best you could hope for.
The entire documentary; interviews, concert footage, fly-on-the-wall observations and backstage shenanigans were all captured digitally on HD cam. A handful of TV spots and news clips are scattered here and there for reference, and the difference in picture quality is noticeable. An analogue-sourced clip from Maiden's performance in Rio in '85 also falls into this category.
Video grain of the mildest variety can be seen in darker shots, such as backstage, but these moments are few. The image is sharp, clear and top notch for the most part.
MPEG compression artefacts are completely absent.
Subtitle streams are included in a variety of languages, with the obligatory English among them. I viewed some of the feature with subs enabled and found the translation a little abbreviated, but otherwise accurate. Some English subtitles are burned into the video stream in order to translate foreign dialogue that pops up from time to time.
Both discs in this package are dual-layered (DVD9 format). The cover slick confusingly lists the format as "5/9", which is strange to say the least. The layer break of disc one (The Film) is situated at 59:02, directly after Can I Play With Madness. The layer break on disc two (The Concert) is located between the songs Rime Of The Ancient Mariner and Powerslave at 51:50. Neither break was noticeable on my equipment.
Both discs are equipped with the same soundtrack options, with stereo PCM 48/16 set as default. Alternate soundtracks encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kb/s) or dts (768 Kb/s) may be selected via the setup menu or on the fly. Note that the DVD cover slick mistakenly lists a dts 96/24 soundtrack, which had me quite excited for a pico second, before being deflated horribly.
The audio mix is credited to Kevin Shirley, producer and engineer with the band for several years now. Kevin "The Caveman" has also produced DVD soundtracks for bands such as Slayer, Page & Plant, Dream Theater and Led Zeppelin, so he's a respected and talented chap in this field. I had no doubt this would be a great audio experience, and the disc certainly lived up to my expectations. As I mentioned in the synopsis above, remember that while the documentary contains a lot of music there are actually no full songs performed uninterrupted, which is why the second disc of full performances is such a great inclusion.
The band is very well balanced, with Drums, Guitars and Bass Guitar spread evenly across the front soundstage. Janick's Guitar tends float around a bit, sometimes panning to the rear channels while he is harmonising with Adrian. The lead and backing vocals are also spread across the front left, right and center speakers, and have a great presence. Bruce's enunciation is excellent and the vocals are always prominent in the mix. Audio sync is perfect.
The rear channels are used to replicate the acoustics of the venue for the most part, with some slight echoes and the like spilling to the rears. Audience applause and cheering from the rear channels is dominant between songs, but can sometimes be a little overpowering while the band is playing.
When it comes to the standard documentary portions of the feature, the dialogue, interview segments and the like are very easy to follow and are front and center as they should be.
In comparing the soundtrack options, I found the PCM stereo default the clear winner. The surround options are great, the dts especially so, but here the PCM is so clearly ahead in terms of depth and crisp clarity, for me it's hard to go past. As I speculated in the video section, it would be interesting to experience the Blu-ray equivalent, just to see how the surround mix scrubs up in HD.
Dedicated subwoofer activity is applied to the kick drum and the Bass Guitar. I found the LFE usage perfect, and certainly not lacking in the slightest. The bass guitar was very well carried by the front channels as well.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu pages are animated and feature fantastic aerial photography of Ed Force One in full flight. All pages are 16x9 enhanced and include familiar audio clips.
This concert-compilation is comprised of all sixteen songs that were performed on this leg of the tour, in their entirety, each culled from a different venue. The tracks flow seamlessly from one to the next, while the video fades to black with a title card (Song Title, Location, Date) between each song. You'll find the complete track listing for this disc in the plot synopsis at the beginning of this review.
The quality of this concert footage is identical to that of the documentary film (see the Video/Audio sections of this review). All were captured using digital HD cameras and feature three soundtrack options.
When considering the place of Flight 666 in the Maiden catalogue, the significance of this concert DVD becomes clear. Not only does it exhibit the fantastic Somewhere Back In Time tour, it also serves as an essential companion piece to the original Live After Death DVD. With the aid of their current three-pronged guitar line-up, these songs are given a life that is only hinted at on the original concert releases. These Guitar harmonies are superbly orchestrated and in many ways I feel these performances are actually better than the studio versions! Hearing Adrian's voice come to the fore during Wasted Years is another exciting highlight for me personally.
After viewing the documentary and only seeing brief portions of these songs, it's only natural to have the urge to watch them all in their entirety! This bonus disc fills that gap, and then some, making it a fantastic inclusion in the package.
An eight-page glossy booklet is included, with photos, credits, thankyous and track listing.
This title is identical in content across the globe. Besides the typical DVD-Amaray hard case package, a Digipak package is also available, which looks very nice.
Flight 666 showcases Iron Maiden in their element; on tour. As indispensable as this film certainly is for fans of the band, the documentary doesn't quite break that barrier that could make it potential entertainment for anyone, metal-head or not. Perhaps that is their intention, and it would not surprise me if that were the case. Nonetheless, the music is fantastic and the band are in great form, as always. If you're a maiden fan this is an absolute must.
The video quality is great.
The audio mix has been overseen by none other than Kevin Shirley.
The extra disc is outstanding. Perhaps some bonus outtakes from the documentary could have been included (surely there must be more), but that is a minor gripe. Superb stuff, indeed.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-3806 (7.1 Channels)|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora III floor-standing Mains and Surrounds. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Center. Mirage 10 inch powered sub.|