Roger Waters-In the Flesh Live (2000)
Menu Animation & Audio
|Year Of Production||2000|
|Running Time||152:42 (Case: 170)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Ernie Fritz|
Doyle Bramhall II
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Linear PCM 48/20 2.0 (192Kb/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|
It is a pity that Pink Floyd separated so acrimoniously in 1983. By that time, Pink Floyd had become quite simply a vehicle for Roger Waters' self-indulgence, with their last album, The Final Cut in 1983 being really a Roger Waters solo album in all but name. It is completely understandable that guitarist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason had had enough of being relegated to the status of virtually just backing musicians to Roger Waters' increasingly introspective concept albums. Of course, Gilmour and co. also had their own egos to contend with here, but whoever you blame for the break-up, it is very sad for all Pink Floyd fans that the band will never again perform live together.
It is sadder still that the name "Pink Floyd" has been re-used by Gilmour, Mason and Wright since, without Waters, to promote several albums and world tours. The period since 1983 now sees the Pink Floyd fan-base split right down the middle. There are those who see Roger Waters as extremely self-indulgent and precious and undeserving of carrying on the Pink Floyd name without the others. These people believe that Gilmour and co fully deserve to carry on the Floyd tradition and view the Pink Floyd discography as including albums such as Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell. On the other hand, there are those like myself with a diametrically opposed view - that the carrying on of the Pink Floyd name without the nucleus of the writer around whom all its best works revolve is completely inappropriate - these people firmly hold the view that the catalogue of Floyd albums ceased with The Final Cut in 1983. If you are a fan, whichever camp you're in, you will probably feel strongly one way or the other. Perhaps the one thing we can all agree on from either side of this wall is that it is a tragedy that there will never be a unified Pink Floyd again.
With this background set, myself and most other Roger Waters fans around the world were becoming quite resigned over the years to the fact that we would never see him perform live again after the hugely successful one-off The Wall in Berlin in 1990. We certainly never contemplated being able to hear live versions of the brilliant material from Amused to Death. To say that the In The Flesh concert tour was eagerly awaited by many Floyd fans around the world would be a significant understatement.
Pink Floyd have always been known for their perfectionism and cutting-edge live concert production. In the early 70s, they were one of the first bands to experiment (seriously) with quadraphonic concert sound effects. They then pioneered show-stopping lighting and projection effects and utilised concert props on an unheard-of theatrical stadium scale to exaggerate the symbolisms and concepts of their songs. This included flying inflatable pigs and building 20-metre high polyurethane brick walls (brick-by-brick) in front of the concert audience during the concert. In the 80s, the pseudo-Pink Floyd continued this tradition by concentrating on the visuals of the show, taking expensive (and gimmicky?) laser lightshow effects to a new level.
Now to the In The Flesh tour, which utilises computer-controlled film projector images to accentuate the concepts of the songs. Most importantly though, this concert sets new standards by concentrating less on the flashy background stage lighting/effects that used to dominate our attention in the 80s (note there is no precocious laser show or huge circular projector in this concert), and instead concentrating much more again on what concerts should be all about - the quality of the live sound. Virtually every single backing track sound effect which was used in the original studio recordings for these songs has been captured and incorporated into the live mix, timed to playback perfection each time. Also (and this is what should get the attention of DVD and home theatre buffs generally), this concert sets new standards in the live performance mix itself, taking full advantage of 5.1 channels to re-create a full surround sound live concert environment.
At the live concert performance I was lucky enough to experience in Sydney last month, I was amazed (but probably not overly surprised) at the degree of perfectionism and aplomb with which this truly surround sound concert experience was carried off, with its seamless integration of all those different audio and visual layers, all timed and mixed to perfection on top of what was a technically brilliant live performance by the band on the night. Knowing that an earlier concert performance from the In The Flesh world tour was soon to be released on DVD, I had hoped and prayed that this DVD release would receive the same quality control in terms of audio and video transfer. I was not disappointed.
Above all though, putting aside the technology, this DVD would be nothing if not for some brilliant live performances. It needed not just a strong performance from Roger himself, but the rest of the band and singers needed to also be up to the challenge to make up for the loss of the talented Gilmour and co and deliver on the fans' very high expectations. As it happens, the performances of all band members here is objectively quite superb. Stand-out tracks on this disc for me are Comfortably Numb (with guitar solos from Doyle Bramhall II and Snowy White good enough to bring tears to the eyes!), Dogs (Jon Carin's faithful vocal talents plus his slide-guitar prowess deserve special mention), Shine On (this live version being easily 10 times better and more passionate than any live effort by the pseudo-Pink Floyd over the past 15 years), Perfect Sense (PP Arnold's spine-chilling vocals) and Time (Graham Broad's drumming).... But really, it's hard to pick out individual tracks for special mention, as the musical performances on virtually all tracks are brilliant.
The only one track that I did find, quite honestly, just a little bit disappointing, was Wish You Were Here. It's not that the musicians don't do a great job on this track - in fact the electric-acoustic guitar by Snowy White here is fantastic - but it's just that Roger (stubbornly) insists on singing this song differently to the way in which David Gilmour's phrasing made it famous. I have to admit that on this particular track Roger's vocal is not nearly as good. But this is the one and only track where I find the vocal performance to be diminished from the original. A minor disappointment in what is otherwise a series of superb performances spanning the entire repertoire.
For me, this DVD just goes to prove that, whilst it's simply impossible to recreate the Pink Floyd sound without Roger Waters, it is arguably possible, provided you have a talented enough group of musicians, to do so without David Gilmour and co. I know that this is a controversial statement, so I would welcome readers posting their views on this in the comments section.
|1. In the Flesh|
2. The Happiest Days of our Lives
3. Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2
5. Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert
6. Southampton Dock
7. Pigs On the Wing, Part 1
9. Welcome to the Machine
10. Wish You Were Here
11. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (1-8)
12. Set the Controls 4 Heart of the Sun
|13. Breathe (In the Air)|
16. Every Stranger's Eyes
17. Perfect Sense (Parts I and II)
18. The Bravery of Being Out of Range
19. It's a Miracle
20. Amused to Death
21. Brain Damage
23. Comfortably Numb
24. Each Small Candle
Apart from a slightly noticeable amount of grain apparent during an introductory 5-minute piece in the dressing room before the show, the video transfer of the concert itself is of excellent quality - as good as it can be for something shot on Digi-Beta, anyway. The transfer is extremely crisp, clean and free from any noticeable artefacts.
This transfer is in fact near perfect for its source, with colours vibrant and foreground images and resolution always crisp and sharp. In occasional scenes, the background detail could be said to be less than razor sharp, but this is always going to be the case with rock concert footage due to background smoke, lighting effects and other issues, so you cannot fault the transfer here.
Colours are always richly saturated, which is of course crucial (and very noticeable) in concerts when you have colours highlighted individually with spotlights and other lighting effects. Skin tones are fine under the harsh lighting and (this is the real colour test) the blacks and the darker tones are all faithfully rendered. There are no irregularities in colour at all and low level noise is consequently not an issue, with resolution maintained across each and every expanse of colour, including the background blacks.
Pleasingly, there are no noticeable artefacts to report at all. Aliasing is usually always the biggest problem with live concert footage, given the endless pans across the same single static scene, and the preponderance of straight lines (like guitar strings and keyboards) and edges (stage borders) with which this little critter can manifest itself and divert your attention. Mercifully though, aliasing is kept well under control and there are no real incidents to talk about, ignoring an occasional close-up image of Roger's bass guitar strings which might threaten to verge on aliasing but never quite do so.
In summary, this video transfer is extremely hard to fault. I'd have to stop short of calling it reference quality though, only due to the limitations of the source medium and the background resolution constraints inherent in a live concert environment.
For the record, the song subtitling is also well-timed and accurate for 99.9% of the lyrics. (I only noticed 2 very minor subtitling errors for the entire lyrics over a 2.5 hour concert, which is a pretty good effort.)
This disc is RSDL formatted and I'm sure there had to be a layer change in there somewhere, however after watching the feature through fully twice, I didn't note the layer transition either time, so it must have been very inconspicuous and well placed.
Dolby Digital 5.1 mix:
This is an amazingly full and immersive surround mix. The first and most impressive thing to note is how full this mix is at the bottom-end. Perhaps this is a benefit of the artist being a fastidious bass guitarist, exercising unfettered control and attention to detail over every level of his project. I'm sure it's no coincidence that the bottom end of this mix is a lot fuller than for most other concert DVDs that I've heard. The bass guitar is always kept distinct and sounds nice and warm and the subwoofer is employed constantly to embellish the bass sounds not only of the guitars and kick drums (see the intro to Breathe in the Air or Money for examples), but also to fill out the bottom end of other instruments and the various sound effects (listen to the jet fighter screaming across the soundstage before Get You Filthy Hands Off My Desert for example).
All this nice deep bass is not at the expense of the rest of the mix however, as the mid-range and high-end are also quite clear. The levels of each and every instrument in the mix is spot-on for my ear. The electric guitars are up loud enough in the mix (sufficiently biting when they need to be), the vocals are always distinct (very rarely drowned out, as is a usual problem with loud rock concerts), the keyboards are mixed in well and the drums and percussion are also carried well. This is certainly a faithful audio reproduction across the spectrum.
This concert is a showcase example of just how impressive 5.1 audio mixing can be. The vocals, guitars and drums are principally mixed across the front speakers, with other instruments including keyboards and percussive effects at times deftly mixing in from the rear. Take the keyboards in In The Flesh for example, which beautifully start from the rear and then flow across to the front of the soundstage to draw you into the mix - superb stuff. The surround speakers are also used to very good effect with the various backing tracks (taken from the original studio recordings and mixed in to perfection, as if you are indeed listening to the studio recording). Prime examples are the jet fighter from Get Your Filthy Hands or the cash register sounds from Money, precisely migrating around the room from speaker to speaker. These precise locational sound effects were also heard at the live concert I saw in Sydney. Roger Waters really is taking surround sound in the concert arena to new levels.
There are only 2 very minor problems that I found with the 5.1 mix. The first is some annoying background hiss heard to be emanating from the front right speaker during some quieter tracks - listen to the early parts of Mother and Pigs On the Wing to hear this. The second, a very niggly point indeed, is that the sound of the crowd could have been mixed in just a touch more aggressively, to bring out the excitement of this concert. It's very annoying to not to hear more enthusiastic applause after the band's phenomenal efforts on songs like Shine On or Set the Controls for example. These are very minor complaints though and don't mar what is otherwise reference quality audio for a live concert.
I listened to this mix and compared it to the stereo mix on the double-live In The Flesh CD to determine which is better. They're both great mixes, both very similar and both very bottom-heavy. On balance though, I think I would probably opt for the CD rather than this LPCM version, the principal difference being that the songs on the CD are the best performance of each song taken from 4 different concerts, whereas the performances on this LPCM mix are all taken from the one concert. Also, the sound of the crowd is mixed in better on the CD and so adds more to the event.
As mentioned above, one issue I had with the LPCM track compared to the 5.1 track is that it does not have nearly the same room to breathe (naturally). It therefore had a greater tendency to get muddied with all that bass at times - mainly it was the drums that got muddied. Listen to how rumbly the drums start to sound during Set the Controls or the intro section of Time for example and compare this to the 5.1 mix.
The other issue is that some of the sound effects don't seem to come off quite as well with the LPCM track. Listen to the jet fighter before Get Your Filthy Hands for example. In the 5.1 mix this screams across from rear to front (and right to left a bit). In the LPCM track it doesn't have nearly the same impact. It is evident that these sound effects were individually re-mixed in for the CD, as there is a much more distinct right to left effect here on the CD.
For the record, dialogue/vocal quality is excellent in both the 5.1 and LPCM mixes - always clear and distinct above the instruments (an area where many a live rock concert mix falls down). Audio sync is also spot on with the visuals for both mixes.
|Surround Channel Use|
This extra is also presented in 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced format but it sports only 2 channel audio. Video quality is fine for this type of extra.
A text page on each and every band member. Some very interesting facts here, including who each band member has worked with in the past. They really are a very talented group.
46 still shots in all. Quite interesting.
A useful inclusion (just like on The Wall DVD), this includes a surround sound system set-up guide to calibrate the sound level for your speakers, should this be required, and a limited video/colour test guide.
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|