Scorpions-Moment of Glory: Berliner Philharmoniker Live (2000)
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Interview With The Band
Featurette-Director's Cut: Hurricane 2000
Featurette-Director's Cut: Moment Of Glory
Featurette-Director's Cut: Here In My Heart
|Year Of Production||2000|
|Running Time||90:01 (Case: 108)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (43:29)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Pit Weyrich|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.0 (768Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Firstly, this is a classic case of the front cover of a DVD being misleading on several fronts. No, this isn't an acoustic or "unplugged" set at all. As soon as you see the concert opening you realise that it is (thankfully) a full-on electric Scorpions set. Next thing you notice is the size of the stage and the venue; it is massive. OK, so now we know that it's not a small stage acoustic concert. But later on in the set, there must be at least a few 'upfront and personal' numbers, with the band members all huddled together as it shows on the front cover, right? Well, actually, no. The misleading thing is that the shot shown on the front cover has been taken from a song which doesn't even appear on the DVD at all
Why, oh why do distributors (or record companies) do this? Yes guys, it may happen to look like a nice photo of the band to have on the front cover of the DVD, but if has been taken from a track that doesn't even appear on the disc, then it's also a tad misleading to a potential buyer. If anything, this front cover would have probably turned me off buying this disc, rather than inducing me to purchase! A small point, but there, I've got it off my chest, so now let's get on with the review.
I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm a huge fan of The Scorpions, but I do like quite a bit of their music. It's very hard to be into rock music and not have come across this band at some time or other. They are certainly rock veterans now. Having come from/formed in Hannover (West Germany), their music has been extremely popular across both East and West, with the Eastern European influence aparrent in their style and music. Well respected as the archetypal Eastern/Western crossover European rock group, they have been an interesting barometer of how the Western rock music and culture that we take for granted has been perceived and interpreted across the other half of the world, and then thrown back at us like a mirror in the form of an Eastern-influenced rock band singing about largely Western ideals. It's also been extremely interesting to listen to their musical interpretation of important events as the world has changed over the past few decades (hence Wind of Change, describing the general mood of optimism at the fall of the Berlin Wall, deservedly being such a great hit song in 1989). There may be no cold war or East/West-fusion novelty value listening to The Scorpions music in today's climate, but this band is well and truly past such novelty status now, deservedly elevated to the status of true rock veterans. After all, these guys have been rocking on in (largely) the same line-up since 1966 (yes, 1966!), and that puts them in a very elite class of rock supergroup indeed.
After my initial reluctance about another rock-symphony concert event, almost cringing as I put the disc in the player, I am very pleased to report that this DVD is extremely impressive, both in terms of content and quality.
The impetus behind this event was the World Expo of 2000, which was held in the city of Hannover - the Scorpions' home city. The Berliner Philharmoniker Orchestra had apparently been very keen to work with Germany's other world-renowned musical export, The Scorpions, for many years. They decided that the World Expo of 2000 (yawn) would provide a suitable showcase, "symbolising the marriage of opposites that has taken place so recently throughout Europe" (yawn). With this in mind, the band wrote the song Moment of Glory to be performed with the Philharmoniker. Complete with its chorus of singing children (yawn), it was clearly always intended for this song to be released as a single and adopted as the official Expo 2000 theme song (double yawn).
Another song was then written with young American singer Lyn Liechty, also to be performed with the Philharmoniker and released as a single. (I had never heard of Lyn Liechty before, and for good reason; she appears to have been chosen by Klaus Meine more for her revealing stage attire than for her voice!) A third song was also adopted for the Philharmoniker, Hurricane 2000, this one staying in keeping with the orchestral theme but being much heavier and better in The Scorpions' mould. After this, other songs were then chosen from the band's sizeable back catalogue and arranged for a one-off Expo 2000 headline concert.
But surprisingly, even despite the Moment of Glory theme with its singing children, and even despite a crowd full of mums and dads and Expo officials who all look way past their bed-times, this concert is anything but a yawn at all. Perhaps it's because of the strong melodic content of The Scorpions' music, or perhaps because they wisely decided not to stoop to weak acoustic arrangements of "play the hits with orchestra", or perhaps simply because the mix between vocals, instruments and orchestra was well balanced..... whatever the reason, this concert concept actually worked and worked extremely well.
I know, I know, you still don't believe me, do you? I probably shouldn't have scared you off with the singing children.... But just give it a go - you'll be very pleasantly surprised!
Stand-out tracks for me are Deadly Sting Suite and We'll Burn the Sky, which is the oldest song (I believe) in the set, dating back to the early 70s. We'll Burn the Sky is a long-time concert favourite with Scorpions fans and you can really see and hear the band open up in the familiarity of this song. Powerful stuff indeed.
The only slightly disappointing track for me is Wind of Change, which I love. I was really looking forward to the adaptation of this song here, but find this version just doesn't quite come off. One of the main reasons I think is that the choruses seem flat without Klaus Meine's double-tracked backing vocal.
The Conductor of the Philharmoniker, Christian Kolonovits, deserves a special mention. This guy is great. He maintains a good balance of technical classical abilities, keeping the orchestra in pace and tune, whilst also maintaining a good rock sensibility, being cognisant to retain flexibility in timing for when the electric guitars and vocals come in. He also looks like he's having a great time about it! Could this guy be the new Michael Kamen? I'll be watching out for more of this Conductor...
|1. Hurricane 2000|
2. Moment of Glory
3. You and I
4. We Don't Own the World
5. Here In My Heart
6. We'll Burn the Sky
|7. Big City Nights|
8. Deadly Sting Suite
9. Wind of Change
10. Still Loving You
11. Moment of Glory (Reprise)
The transfer is extremely clear and sharp, with great detail and resolution throughout, even in the harsh concert lighting. Colours are vibrant and nicely saturated. The predominant blues and reds of the stage lighting are rendered faithfully and contrast well with the whites in the guitars and some costumes. Skin tones are fine, whilst at the same time the blacks and darker colours are also exemplary.
Pleasingly, there are no film artefacts or film to video artefacts present, apart from only one issue - some persistent and gross aliasing. Unfortunately, anything that is a possible candidate for aliasing gives you grief in this transfer. And to make matters worse, concert footage, with its static set, quick cuts, angled shots and long recurring pan shots, presents the perfect environment for this little artefact to attract your attention. Some of the things which caught my eye were: the lines across the rear of the stage set (see 3:55), the conductor's box (13.52), the lighting effects (16:00), the front of the stage (22:18), a boy's T-shirt (24:10) and the percussive instruments (51:27). What a bummer. If it wasn't for the aliasing, then this video transfer would be very hard to fault.
A comment on the subtitles:... umm, so where are they? Subtitles are sorely lacking on this DVD, particularly given that Klaus Meine is (naturally) speaking in German throughout the concert. Without any subtitle option, we miss out on all the song introductions and chats between songs, which I'm sure would have provided some useful background information on how the songs/arrangements came about or just to establish the band's reaction to the crowd and the event. I would have also appreciated reading all the song lyrics as I watched the concert. Klaus's thick accent makes it hard enough to pick up Scorpions' song lyrics on their studio recordings at the best of times, let alone live... Having a subtitle option on concert DVDs is a distinct advantage over video or any other format, and there is definitely a clear call for it with this disc, given the non-English content. Pity.
This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring at 43:29. A bit annoying, being right in mid-sentence of Klaus's intro to We'll Burn the Sky. But then again, I suppose the layer change has to be somewhere in the concert.
Dolby Digital 5.0 mix (effectively 5.1 mix):
The first thing you notice when you put the disc in for the first time is how nice and loud and clear the audio mix is. You certainly don't need to pump the volume up all that much to get the most out of it, but it's a mix that does beg you to pump it up just a bit more! The next thing you notice is that this is a very modern recording indeed, clearly with all the benefits of modern microphone techniques and digital recording equipment - it is breathtakingly clear. (Footnote: if only this modern recording technology had been available in the past to record my favourite Queen concerts of 1974 and 1975!...)
The next thing you notice is how effective the surround mix is. This is truly constant and immersive surround sound. At last, record companies are starting to exploit the full potential of DVD and 5.1 channels for live music. The orchestra is particularly well mixed, at some times with the brass instruments from the rear complementing the string instruments weighted towards the front, and at other times different orchestral instruments deftly weighted from respective corners of the sound stage. It's quite a subtle mix and certainly conveys the feeling of being right on the conductor's stand, sandwiched between the orchestra and the screaming guitars!
I've rarely heard a live concert recording utilise the rear speakers to such dramatic effect. (Post script comment: Until the Roger Waters Live DVD! - refer separate review.) In fact, if I had to find any fault in this mix, I would say that at times the front/rear balance is a bit unnatural, with the rear channels arguably mixed in just a touch too aggressively. There are some tracks which to my ear need the rear channels mixed in a little lower and the right front channel mixed up a touch, to make the lead guitar bite just that bit more. Overall though, it is an excellent use of the surround format.
Audio sync is the first problem marring this transfer. The syncing is variable. For a good part of the feature, the syncing is out - at least for playback on my player - so that the audio comes just a touch before the visual. This is most particularly noticeable for shots of the drummer (check out We'll Burn The Sky for the worst examples). Yet, apart from many shots of the drummer, the syncing for the vocals and the guitars and nearly everything else appears perfectly fine for the majority of the feature. The isolation of this problem to shots of the drummer only is most peculiar. It may even have something to do with a problem in the camera right next to the drummer (or the editing of the footage from this camera?). Very strange indeed. Whatever the problem, it does become quite distracting when you become conscious of it every time it cuts to this camera.
Next to use of the sub-woofer, and I'm pleased to report a big thumbs-up here. The sub is kept extremely busy to fill out the low end of the music, accentuating the kick-drums and to embellishing the bass guitar notes very well. The bass remains faithfully clean and distinct. This is certainly a driving, pumping concert sound. Stand-out tracks for bass for me are Deadly Sting Suite and We'll Burn The Sky. (Refer also comment under dts mix below.)
The most material complaint to make about this audio mix is some very annoying little audio pops and scratches plaguing the right rear and right front speakers throughout. They are not anything approaching sound drop-outs at all, but just very momentary little cracks and pops which become very distracting if you're critically listening out for them. To see what I mean, have a listen at around 5:50 and 9:00 (R rear and R front), 23:04 (R rear), 50:13 (L and R front) and track 8 (R front intermittently). I hasten to put this problem in context, however. If you're not overly sensitive about it then it might not be a drama for you. It is persistent enough problem to mention though. In fairness, I doubt that any live recording involving the mic'ing of such a large number of different musical instruments could be absolutely perfect.
After hearing how great the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix was, I couldn't wait to hear the dts mix. And I wasn't disappointed.
The dts mix has the benefit you would expect over the Dolby Digital; that is to give the whole thing some additional breathing space. With such a full-on audio assault, involving so many different types of musical instruments, the dts mix helps to provide just a bit more clarity and separation between the instruments. All instruments seem to gain some added clarity. As an example, compare the piano section at 29:20 (in We Don't Own The World). In the Dolby Digital mix, the piano sounds just a bit harsh, whereas the dts mix delivers a warmer and more natural sound.
And if I thought the bass was clean the first time around, then the dts mix is even better. The bass is even crisper again this time around, not just in the driving, pummelling bass drums, but also in the bass guitar notes. Compare how much cleaner each individual bass guitar note is in Still Loving You or Wind of Change for example from one mix to the other.
Finally, another plus for me with the dts was the overall front to back mix. To my ear, the dts mix is better balanced, with the rear speakers still loud, but not so aggressive as to topple the weight of the sound stage unnaturally behind me, as the first mix was on the verge of doing at times.
So with this problem corrected, what about the other problem of the intermittent sound pops? Well, very sadly, the dts only highlights this problem. Nearly all of the instances of momentary pops and crackles mentioned above are there again this time around. In fact, because of the added clarity of the dts (or perhaps just because I was becoming more paranoid about it by this time!), I did notice more pops prevalent from the front right speaker in particular (listen and compare track 8 and decide for yourself).
All things considered, I find the dts mix is the better of the two, due to the better front to rear balance and the higher clarity/separation this mix provides.
The audio effort on this DVD is hard to fault; it's just a real pity there's a couple of detracting issues.
|Surround Channel Use|
The quality of this featurette is fine, albeit suffering from the same aliasing bug as the main feature. It's also a little grainy, being non-enhanced.
As an aside, it is interesting to note that there are two separate references in this featurette to the Scorpions' song Send Me An Angel (from the 1989 "Crazy World" album). Once this song is played in the background over some visual montage, and once it is referred to specifically by Klaus Meine in his interview. It is apparent then that this song was performed in the concert, yet we don't see it. My guess is - and this is only a hunch - that this track would have lent itself very nicely to a little up-front-and-personal acoustic number at the front of the stage, and you can bet that the mysterious front cover photo was taken from this track, which was subsequently cut from the final release for whatever reason.
I was also able to verify for certain that there are 3 songs in this concert cut for this DVD release. How? Well at one point during the concert (I didn't note down the exact time, sorry) there is a shot from behind the keyboardist. On top of the keyboard is his type-written set list. If you pause and zoom in on this piece of paper you'll see there are 14 songs in total being performed, 12 in the concert proper and 2 in the encore. The DVD however gives us only 9 main and 2 encore tracks, so we definitely miss out on 3 tracks somewhere in the middle. We know what one of them is; I wonder what the other two tracks are?...
The transfer quality is fine, just the same issues with the featurette (aliasing, non-enhanced and 2 channel audio).
All 3 studio recordings are shorter and punchier versions compared to the concert versions. Here In My Heart in particular has better impact. (It appears from the studio recording that Lyn Liechty can sing after all!, so perhaps she just choked on the night of the concert.)
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using Component output|
|Display||Toshiba 117cm widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Yamaha RXV-1000. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Amplification||Elektra Home Theatre surround power amp|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora III mains, Orpheus Centaurus 1.0 centre, Velodyne CT150 sub and B&W DM303 rears|