In December of 1999, Paul McCartney returned to the Cavern Club in Liverpool with a backing band made up of such talented musicians as Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice, Mick Green and Pete Wingfield. 300 people were able to squeeze into the club to catch a lively concert by McCartney and crew as they went through hits past and present. A highly animated McCartney interacts energetically with the audience between songs, even taking on a bit of a heckler during one point in the set. Both he and the entire band seem to be having a great deal of fun playing for the enthusiastic and small crowd and the playing gets seemingly even more intense as the 45 minute set goes on.
Songs: Honey Hush, Blue Jean Bop, Brown-Eyed Handsome Man, Fabulous, What It Is, Lonesome Town, Twenty Flight Rock, No Other Baby, Try Not to Cry, Shake a Hand, All Shook Up, I Saw Her Standing There, Party
VIDEO: Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, "Live at the Cavern Club" looks terrific. Long a company that has tried to present concert material in anamorphic widescreen whenever possible, they have again done a fine job here. Sharpness and detail are very good throughout the show - some moments look a little on the soft side, but "smooth" - not hazy or blurry. Come to think of it, maybe this might be due to the amount of smoking that's going on in the club.
There were a few minor problems throughout the show, but they didn't really cause a distraction. Some very light traces of pixelation appeared a couple of times, but again, remained minimal. Colors looked a bit soft as the multi-colored neon lights illuminated McCartney and crew, but at least they didn't looked smeary. Overall, not without faults, but still a very nice anamorphic presentation.
SOUND: Recorded at a smaller club venue, the Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio presentations take on a slightly more low-key feel when it comes to the sound mix. It does generally follow the same method as presenting most concert audio - the instruments are spread out across the front speakers, with some re-inforcement from the surrounds and the vocals clearly from the center speaker.
This time though, the surrounds are not relied upon quite as heavily. Although they are almost contstantly offering some element of re-inforcement for the music, the audio focus is clearly from the front speakers. Between songs, the surrounds also kick in with some realistic crowd ambience. It's the kind of crowd ambience where you can hear individual voices shouting things to McCartney and band. On the playing side, all of the instruments are nicely defined during the songs - for a live recording in a smaller club, this is a very nice recording, clear and detailed.
The DTS 5.1 version sounded literally louder than the Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation, but at the same time, it took on a fuller, warmer sound while the Dolby Digital version sounded flat and somewhat thinner in comparison. Still, this is an enjoyable and realistic presentation of the small club concert.
MENUS:: When Image Entertainment goes all out for their animated menus, they really do a terrific job. The menus contain nicely done animation and a clip from the concert in 5.1 audio.
EXTRAS:: A 22 minute interview where McCartney discusses his recent work as well as what it was like to play an intimate concert at the Cavern Club; text about the Cavern Club; a hilariously corny video for "Brown Eyed Handsome Man"; album promo; "No Other Baby" promo; biographies; sleeve notes.
Final Thoughts: Although the picture and audio quality are not the best that I've seen from an Image Entertainment DVD presentation, they still remain above-average and highly enjoyable, as does the concert, which was quite an entertaining and lively show. Recommended.