Nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, Montreux is a small city that blossoms during the first two weeks of July with a massive Jazz Festival. Started in 1967, the Montreux Jazz Festival was a modest affair spanning three days which attracted the big names like Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone, but a mere three years later the festival opened its doors to other types of music and naturally extending its duration. In 1971 the Montreux Casino burned to the ground during a show by Frank Zappa which inspired Deep Purple to write their iconic tune, Smoke on the Water – which had direct lyrical reference to the festival and the events which lead to the smoke drifting over Lake Geneva.
By the 1980s the festival had grown so much that it expanded into all varieties of music with a still strong emphasis on jazz however. In the early 1990s renowned producer Quincy Jones was tapped with co-producing the show bringing an even larger audience to the already swollen show, attendance grew from the tens of thousands in the 80s to well over one hundred thousand in 1994.
In 2005 among the musical acts such as Tori Amos, Fantomas and Antony & The Johnsons was Alice Cooper, one of the original shock rockers in all his glory. Eagle Vision brings Alice's nearly ninety minute set to stunning high definition, sweat and wrinkles included.
Having seen Alice Cooper within the last decade I was quite excited to see how his show had evolves seeing has he had released no less than four additional albums. Would his new show focus on the newer music that he's created or would he include some of the classic songs and theatrics that made him famous.
Thankfully, that question can be answered by checking the track listing on the back on the case – it features a good mix of classic Alice tracks like Under my Wheels, School's Out, and a great medley featuring Steven, Only Women Bleed and the Ballad of Dwight Fry mixed with newer tracks like What do you Want from Me, Dirty Diamonds and Between High School and Old School. Rest assured that the theatrical aspect that Alice Cooper was famous for still makes its way into his more recent shows. All the saber swinging and cane twirling that is a Cooper signature is intact; as well the mighty guillotine makes an appearance towards the end of the show to much applause by the crowd.
It's obvious that Cooper is getting older and his stage presence shows that. He's start out strong owning the stage as he stalks the crowd, but after a couple more songs he tends to stand still and the band will move into a slower track allowing Cooper to recover before giving it his all in the next song. Instrumental breaks and costume changes are conveniently located after particularly grueling songs, but really it's not a knock against Cooper because he still brings the rock when he is onstage. Some of his newer tracks however seem a little out of place with the Cooper of yesteryear, references to Xbox and an obvious knock on Paris Hilton are present and even some of his songs tend to sound like they'd be better recorded by artists such as Green Day or Blink 182. But, props are given to artists who can survive four decades of music and still bring fans to their feet.
The track listing for this Blu-Ray concert is as follows:
1. Department of Youth
2. No More Mister Nice Guy
3. Dirty Diamonds
4. Billion Dollar Babies
5. Be My Lover
6. Lost in America
7. I Never Cry
8. Woman of Mass Distraction
9. I'm Eighteen
10. Between High School & Old School
11. What Do You Want From Me
12. Is It My Body
13. Go To Hell
14. The Black Widow
16. Feed My Frankenstein
17. Welcome To My Nightmare
18. The Awakening
20. Only Women Bleed
21. Ballad of Dwight Fry
23. I Love the Dead
24. School's Out
26. I Wish I Were Born in Beverly Hills
27. Under My Wheels
How's it Look:
Once again Eagle Vision presents an excellent looking concert film on Blu-Ray. Alice Cooper Live at Montreux 2005 is presented in 1.78:1 with 1080i for resolution. While watching the concerts I was able to do periodic samples of the bit rate of the video feed and it hovered above 25Mbps for the bulk of the show, even staying above 30 for extended periods.
When HD was announced there were television and movie personalities who immediately felt pressure due to the enhanced visuals allowing their flaws to be a little more prevalent, and Mr. Cooper is definitely showing his age during the close up shots. Throughout the show footage was very crisp allowing for the stage show to come through in very high detail, even to the point that when Calico Cooper, Alice's daughter, was dancing on stage the fishnet stocking pattern was visible from a wide camera angle. No artifacts were noticed that detracted from the look of the show at all. Even during one song where a post processing effect making Alice appear in black & white while the rest of the show was in color looked great, no major grips about this transfer. It's more than adequate for concert footage, but doesn't quite measure up to the other Eagle Vision concert I've checked out, the Black Crowes Freak 'n Roll.
How's the Sound:
Three audio options are included here and I had a tough time deciding which was the best to showcase the soaring guitar solos, not to mention one of the most uninspired drum solos I've ever laid eyes on. A Dolby Digital track sampled at 48k pushing 640kbps pales in comparison to the two other tracks, DTS 5.1 and a Linear PCM both pushing sampled at 48k and pushing 1.5Mbps. When comparing these two superior tracks it was tough to distinguish which had the better sound, as long as the LPCM was in stereo mode and not defaulted into Pro Logic as my receiver liked to do. If I was hard pressed to pick a favorite, I would think the LPCM edged out the DTS track simply because it was mixed for two channels bringing the feeling of seeing the concert in person with stacks of speakers on either side of the stage, rather than spread around you in five locations.
When comparing the in person show to this on Blu-Ray concert, I'm going to say that Alice Cooper still knows how to treat a crowd. The effort he exerts during his shows does wear him down, which is quite apparent by the end of the show, but he puts so much into the show that even non-fans must appreciate what he's doing on stage.
The entire package, while completely devoid of any additional bonus features is a good foray into what it's like to be at an Alice Cooper concert. The audio and visual component is quite solid, but having not seen this DVD release nor have heard the CD release it's tough to comment on how much better it is than those releases. If you are a fan of Alice Cooper or even someone who has yet to see what he can do on stage then I'd have no hesitation in telling you to at least rent this title. It's a fun diversion for the running time.