Matchbox Twenty-VH1 Storytellers (2001)

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Released 18-Nov-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Audio & Animation
Music Highlights
Music Video-Push (Country Version)
Booklet
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 62:17
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Dave Diomedi
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Rob Thomas
Paul Doucette
Brian Yale
Adam Gaynor
Kyle Cook
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music Matchbox Twenty


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles French
German
Spanish
English Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, The credits roll over the final applause.

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Storytellers series is to VH1 what Unplugged is MTV, only a little less famous. The general idea is that an artist or group of note (in this case, modern pop-rock quintet Matchbox Twenty) put on a live set where they not only talk about the inspiration for their songs, but are able to try some new arrangements. This concept works surprisingly well, creating some very interesting performances.

    This entry in the series focuses on Matchbox Twenty, and this release has been timed to coincide with their third studio album, More Than You Think You Are. As this performance was filmed only a few months after the release of their second album - Mad Season - it heavily favours songs from that album. This is not actually a bad thing, as while their first album (Yourself Or Someone Like You) was full of raw energy, and the good songs (including the break-through hits Push and 3am) showed a lot of promise, it lacked cohesion and contained some very ordinary songs - songs that, thankfully, do not get an airing here. Shortly after lead singer and songwriter Rob Thomas co-wrote the huge Santana hit Smooth, the band released Mad Season and demonstrated that with more studio money, and a desire to try new things, they could fulfil their potential. Thomas's writing had improved, and he had learned to play up the melodic hooks to often spine-tingling effect. Mad Season contains some of the very best mainstream rock songs produced in the last ten years, and while the band still have a long way to go to prove that they can be consistent producers of quality pop-rock in the calibre of Rob Thomas's idols (such as Tom Petty), they certainly have a lead over the other middle-class white American rockers to become this generation's Springsteen.

    To continue the analogy with MTV, this performance is to Matchbox Twenty what Unplugged was to The Corrs - it finally proves to all that they are (at the very least) talented musicians who are capable of putting together a first-class performance. The songs are very good, and Thomas even takes to the piano in the second half of the concert. The band give, for the most part, straight down the line renditions of their songs, but are good enough to throw in some variation, in the form of a cover of Lonely Weekend, a swing version of Crutch, and a country version of Push. Probably the most surprising variation however is the piano-solo version of 3am with Thomas behind the keys giving a very personal performance. Admittedly, not all of it comes off perfectly - the slower nature of 3am drags a little (despite the personal nature of the performance), and the swing-enhanced Crutch comes over as a little pretentious, but the overall effect is still very positive. This is a band willing to challenge themselves and their fans, and if this performance is any indication, they have an extremely bright future ahead of them.

    As a final note, be aware that while this DVD is classified "E" (exempt from classification), it contains a few expletives (and not the "nice" ones).

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Track Listing

1. Bent
2. Mad Season
3. Black & White People
4. Push
5. If You're Gone
6. Q&A
7. Crutch
8. Lonely Weekend
9. You Won't Be Mine
10. Rest Stop
11. 3 AM

Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer presented here is of medium quality - while it is by no means bad, it is certainly not the most visually appealing concert released on DVD.

    Presented at 1.33:1, this transfer is not 16x9 enhanced. This is most likely the correct aspect ratio, as the performance was filmed for Cable TV in the US at the start of 2001.

    The transfer is quite soft, with most detail being subdued. It is not soft enough to be distracting, but a lot softer than expected. There is also a not insubstantial amount of grain present, with shots across the stage being particularly affected. Shadow detail is very poor, with any area even slightly dark simply disappearing into the shadows. This could be an intentional choice however, as it does tend to work quite well with the lighting style used for the show. There is no low level noise.

    Colours are quite good, with the whole performance given a "warm" feel thanks to the favouring of orange lighting, although the blues get quite a workout as well. There are few colour highlights in this transfer, but the whites are well presented, and the lighting intentions are carried across to film nicely.

    Compression artefacts consist mainly of some background pixelization when grain is visible, but there is also some chroma noise to be found in the large expanses of blue light (such as at 28:15). Aliasing causes more problems than would be expected from the softness of the transfer, with guitar strings breaking up, and the mike (and mike-stand) in particular proving problematic, such as from 48:08 to 48:22, and 56:13 to 56:17. Film artefacts are relatively infrequent, but can be very large and distracting when they do appear, such as the large hair that appears right over Rob Thomas's face at 29:51.

    There are no subtitles for the lyrics on this disc, presenting only non-English subtitles for the dialogue.

    This is a single layered disc, and as such does not have a layer change.

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

Audio

    This is an extremely good audio mix, presenting the songs in a very impressive manner.

    There are three audio tracks on this disc, all being the original performance in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448 Kbps), full bitrate DTS 5.1 (at 1536 Kbps), and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (at 224 Kbps).

    The vocals are always clear and easy to make out, as is the between-song dialogue. The music is very well presented, with instrument clarity being superb - it is easy to hear the different instruments - and the backing vocals are rock steady. The only real problem is some crackling present in the soundtrack that recurs on a disappointingly frequent basis. Some examples are from 19:35 to 19:47 in the left channel, and at 60:15 more centrally. It is difficult to track down what might be causing this problem, but it is present in all three soundtracks, so it is not an encoding error.

    Audio sync is spot on and never causes any problems.

    The use of surround channels in music presentations is becoming more and more standardised these days, and this soundtrack deviates only a little from that, largely using the surrounds for ambient sound reflection, and audience reaction. There are a few instances where instruments are panned to the surround channels (the "studio" nature of this recording makes that acceptable), but for the most part the surrounds are used sparingly.

    The subwoofer gets a light, but well controlled workout. Bass is not booming, and is certainly not going to bounce the chair around the room, but it is there, and adds a very nice backbone to the audio mix.

    Of the soundtracks, the pick is the Dolby Digital 5.1, despite the DTS track being a full-bitrate track. The Dolby Digital is brighter, with a larger bass impact, while the DTS is more controlled and less enthusiastic. In this instance, the Dolby Digital suits the style of the music more. The Dolby 2.0 track is also very good, and certainly won't let those who only have two speakers down, however the added ambience of the surround tracks makes them the more enjoyable listening option.

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

Extras

    The only "extra" on this disc is very much like the "exclusive" bonus tracks on many new CDs - very much a part of the main feature. The included booklet is not exactly riveting either.

Menu

    The menu is animated, themed around the performance, and features Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Push (Country Version) (5:00)

    This is the Matchbox Twenty song Push given a country spin. It is a fun rendition, filmed as part of the main performance. It is presented with the exact same audio and visual configuration as the main feature - 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, featuring a choice of Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1, and DTS 5.1 soundtracks.

Music Only Version

    This option will play the entire concert skipping the explanations for the songs (via seamless branching). This will come in very handy after watching the full presentation a few times.

Booklet

    This "booklet" is a two page (single folded sheet) effort that contains some credits, and a write-up about the show from VH1 producer Bill Flanagan - seems he liked it (strange that).

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc is available in both Region 1 and mainland European Region 2, and both appear to be identical to ours.

Summary

    This is a very good performance by an up-and-coming band. They still have a lot to prove, but at least with this concert they show that their future should be bright. It is very much worth picking up, even for those who are only casual fans of the band.

    The video transfer is only of average quality, being quite soft, afflicted with aliasing problems, and containing some fairly obvious film artefacts.

    The audio quality is very good, with all three soundtracks giving an enjoyable listen. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the most impressive, but the DTS and Dolby Digital 2.0 are both very good.

    The extras are quite disappointing, especially as this is the first DVD outing for this very popular band. It would have been nice to see a little bit more here.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Sunday, December 01, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

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