Manic Street Preachers-Louder Than War: MSP Live in Cuba (2001)

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Released 3-Dec-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Cuba Documentary
Featurette-Tour Diary
Featurette-Cuban TV Bonus Tracks (6)
Gallery-Photo
Discography
Web Links
Easter Egg
Multiple Angles
Seamless Branching
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 56:30
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Sony Music
Starring James Dean Bradfield
Sean Moore
Nicky Wire
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Spanish
Smoking Yes, what did you expect - it's Cuba!
Annoying Product Placement Yes, always C...
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Manic Street Preachers have always been a band that is more about the passion in their beliefs than any amount of musical expression and experimentation. Even if you do not believe in the causes that the Manics do, it is hard not to be impressed by the power of their belief. Coupled with intelligent lyric writing and a neo-glam rock style, this power is abundantly evident in their music. Now onto their sixth album, this Welsh trio (strictly speaking, they are now a quartet) have a huge following in the UK, and a have been a critical darling for most of their career. They have not enjoyed the same level of commercial success in Australia that they have seen in the UK, however they are still well-regarded here, and their music is often heard on non-commercial radio stations.

    Being a Marxist band, Cuba was an obvious place for them to play a show (it is more than a little ironic that this Marxist band is signed to Sony Music...). Just going to Cuba and playing a show is not that easy, however. They had to be invited by the Cuban government first, and then there are the long-standing trade sanctions against Cuba to take into account. Once all that was out of the way, there was the small problem that the aforementioned trade sanctions meant that their music was not available in Cuba - so they would be playing a concert to no one. It was at this point that the Cuban government stepped in and sent invitations to the music schools around Cuba.

    The concert itself proves that when it comes down to what counts - the performance - the Manics can produce an energy-packed show that perfectly complements the style and nature of their music. There is much here for both the casual fan and die-hard fan alike, including an acoustic version of the controversial Baby Elian. The only real problem with the concert itself is that the final filmed version has been cut down to a mere 14 songs and runs for less than an hour. From the bonus tracks, it is obvious that there were many more songs present, so it would have been nicer to have them included with the main feature.

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Track Listing

1. Found That Soul
2. Motorcycle Emptiness
3. Kevin Carter
4. Ocean Spray
5. If You Tolerate This...
6. Let Robeson Sing
7. The Year Of Purification
8. Baby Elian
9. Miss Europa Disco Dancer
10. Wattsville Blues
11. You Love Us
12. Mowtown Junk
13. Australia
14. Rock And Roll Music

Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer presented herein is the very definition of average, being not particularly bad, nor particularly good. Given the conditions in which it was recorded however, it is probably about the best that could be hoped for.

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced, and is another that was obviously created for European DTV.

    The sharpness of the transfer is adequate for the most part, although not helped by the "artistic" aspect of the presentation. Much of the concert is filmed in music video style, featuring fast pans, strange zooms, slow motion sequences, and many intentionally out-of-focus shots all of which obviously impact on the visible sharpness. The slow motion sequences are also badly affected by grain, with some of the worst examples being the sequence 24:28-24:38 and at 51:23, although again this appears to be an intentional "artistic" choice. Obviously, the amount of grain present prevents the slow motion shots from having any semblance of sharpness. Shadow detail fares better than the sharpness, being fairly uniform throughout and again is simply adequate, revealing enough background information to be able to make out performers and the audience in darkened areas, but not enough to do it well. There is no low level noise present in the transfer.

    Colours are quite muted, in some instances so much so that what should be brilliant stage lights come over as fairly flat affairs. This detracts somewhat from the concert spectacle, giving it more of a rehearsal feel.

    Picture artefacts are one area where this disc actually fares quite well. Compression artefacts are few and far between, and consist of some light pixelization, particularly during the grain-effected slow motion sequences. The transfer is nowhere near sharp enough to have any real problems with aliasing and only once instance was noticeable (at 22:51 on a guitar), nor were there any film artefacts present.

    There are no subtitles available for the main feature (even lyrics), although the documentaries are subtitled (and the songs that appear therein). The subtitles for the extra features are word-for-word, and reflect the lyrics as they are sung.

    This disc is dual layered, however the layer change does not split any of the features, rather the features are divided among the layers.

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

Audio

    The audio quality of this disc is much better than the video, presenting a good (although still not great) concert experience.

    There are two audio tracks available on this disc, being Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at the higher bitrate of 448 Kbps, and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo also encoded at the higher bitrate of 224 Kbps. I listened to the 5.1 track in its entirety and sampled the 2.0 track for some songs.

    Vocals come through very cleanly, always being easy to make out. There are no problems with distortion, although the vocal level starts out too low for the first few seconds of Motorcycle Emptiness. Instrumental separations were likewise very good, as it was easy to make out the distinct sounds of the different instruments at all times.

    Audio sync is mostly not a problem for this transfer, although there was one occasion where James Dean Bradfield's mouth was moving and no sound was to be heard, although this could be attributed to a temporary microphone dropout.

    The surround track provides a very good concert experience with crowd noise largely restricted to the rear channels, aiding with the impression of really being there. There are no inventive instrument placements occurring here, however what there is is quite sufficient for the job that needs to be done. The stereo mix is also of a high quality, although the feeling of being at the concert is not as easy to achieve with a straight stereo mix, however this effort is as good as any live CD would produce.

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

Extras

    The extras present on this disc are quite good, although somewhat indicative of a worrying trend in DVDs - quantity without quality. It seems that DVD producers are cramming hours of useless, trivial, and often boring information onto their discs in order to be able to compete in the longest feature list competition.

Menu

    The menu is themed around the documentary extra, and animated. Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is also present for most menus.

Multiple Angles (3)

    Three of the songs in the main feature - Found That Soul, Kevin Carter, and You Love Us - are enhanced with multiple angles (four to be precise). The first is obviously the default edit, while the other three vaguely concentrate on the three main band members. A word of warning is that the angle that is on Sean Moore is the camera that seems to have been designated with obtaining the highest number of quick pans, so those prone to motion sickness would be best to stay away.

Cuba Documentary (43:08)

    This is a very strange inclusion, as all its footage can be seen elsewhere on the disc - the "documentary" footage comes from the tour diary, while two thirds of the 43 minute running time consists of eight of the fourteen songs from the concert presented again, but this time without the multi-angle and only in Dolby Digital 2.0 - frankly this extra is a waste of time and space. It is presented in 1.78:1, is 16x9 enhanced, and as previously mentioned features a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Tour Diary (28:48)

    This feature consists of footage from behind the scenes of the tour, put together in what is presumably chronological order. It has considerably more interest than the documentary. It is presented in 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced (although there are a few shots early on that are in a ratio of 1.33:1, leading to the band looking rather more chubby than usual), with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. This feature is also enhanced by seamless branching, allowing all the footage from certain segments to be shown by pressing the "enter" button on the DVD remote when the message "play full version " is visible. These are: full radio sequence (28:48), full Castro sequence pre-concert (7:10), and full Castro sequence post-concert (13:26). All of these extra sequences contain some quite interesting information, although the sound quality and camera work often leaves something to be desired (after all, much of the footage was cut from the tour diary, and for a reason). These sequences would not play on my Pioneer 535, and in fact would "hang" the player, requiring the player to go to full stop mode before it would play again. There were no problems on my PC however, or in a friend's Nintaus. These segments do not work at all on the Pioneer, even by going direct to the title number. The extra footage is presented at 1.78:1 letterboxed and is not 16x9 enhanced.

Cuban TV Bonus Tracks

    The following tracks were excised from the main concert footage, but are available individually here:     These tracks are presented in 1.33:1 and are not 16x9 enhanced, accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. These tracks are also recorded at an unusually low overall bitrate, which on my Pioneer 535 caused severe macro blocking, giving the entire picture a "mosaic" or blocky effect (in effect giving us the "Lego Street Preachers").

Discography

    This is quite a weighty text-based extra, presenting not only a list of all albums and singles released by the band, but a short article on each album detailing the history of the album and the inspiration for certain songs. More discographies should be like this one.

Photo Gallery

    A collection of 18 photographs from the tour. I personally cannot see the merit in this type of extra.

Web Link (Hidden Content)

    The web-link leads to a "slide the squares" style puzzle on the official Manic Street Preachers site. Once you solve the puzzle, you will be given access codes to see a random selection of extra footage, not available from any of the menus. This footage is presented in 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. This footage suffers from the same encoding problem as the bonus tracks. For those who cannot be bothered solving the puzzle, access to the footage can be gained by selecting 1,7,2,1 with your DVD remote while on the main menu - just wait for the menu to reload between presses.

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 coded for all regions, although it does not appear to be available in America at present. This disc is identical to the European release (which is really to be expected given that the disc was made in Europe).

Summary

    Louder Than War is a good concert disc that tries to be too much more, and is by no means the definitive Manic Street Preachers DVD.

    The video quality is good enough during the main feature that there can be few complaints. On the flip side, however, the transfer is unlikely to garner any compliments either.

    The audio quality gives enough to allow for a good concert experience, although once again, it is by no means anything special.

    The extras presented here are of an extremely variable quality, although their quantity cannot be argued with. Coupled with the fact that my Pioneer 535 flat out refused to play almost an hour's worth of footage, it is safe to say that the extras needed a lot more work.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Sunday, December 23, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayRCA 80cm. 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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