In a time where the music industry is not doing particularly well, there remains several bright spots on landscape of mainstream music; bands or groups that continue to produce strong efforts and who seem to mature and grow musically with each record. U2 remains one of those groups, as their musical light still burns brightly since their first release, "Boy", which came out 21 years ago.
While their sound has changed somewhat over the years, their recent efforts, with upbeat songs such as "Beautiful Day" and "Elevation", have the band returning to a more traditional rock sound, while still boasting exceptional musical talent and interesting lyrics. This fantastically well-filmed concert presentation, recorded in Boston during the band's recent "Elevation" tour, offers an enjoyable mixture of both new and old tunes: Elevation, Beautiful Day, Until the End of the World, Stuck in a Moment, Kite, Gone, New York, I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday, In a Little While, Desire, Stay, Bad, Where the Streets Have No Name, Bullet the Blue Sky, With or Without You, The Fly, Wake Up Dead Man, Walk On.
The DVD also gives fans what they want: excellent audio/video quality and a ton of extras, including multiple angles, documentaries and more. Personally, I think it's an exciting time as more and more musical groups embrace the DVD format and realize the potentional it has to deliver such great enjoyment to their fans.
VIDEO: Presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, the concert looks absolutely superb. Sharpness and detail are exceptional, as the entire show looked well-defined and crisp - even some of the little bits of video footage now and then looking into the audience remained clear and crisp. No pixelation or edge enhancement was seen and the colors (such as the stage lighting) remained crisp and problem-free. A terrific presentation. The layer change on the main concert disc is at 1:04:17, right between songs and between chapters 12/13.
SOUND: "U2: Elevation Tour - Live in Boston" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 for this DVD release and let me say that fans are certainly in for a treat. The second exemplary surround-sound concert presentation recently (the other being Madonna's "Drowned World Tour" DVD), this presentation offers exceptionally strong audio quality, as the music was delivered with fantastic clarity and detail.
Surrounds kicked in wonderfully and appropriately throughout the show, as they delivered fantastic reinforcement for the music and enjoyable ambient sounds/crowd noise. They really added a terrific sense of envelopment without calling a great deal of attention to themselves.
The front speakers provided even more positives. Bono's vocals sounded extremely natural and clear, coming through with amazing presence. The backing instrumentals from the band also benefited from the incredible recording quality of the perfomance, as their efforts stood out distinctly and clearly. The front speakers boasted the band's performance with a warm, open quality, as the music really seemed to extend beyond the speakers and fill the room.
The music provided an enjoyable amount of low-bass, which never became overpowering. While a DTS presentation of the concert would have been appreciated, I was more than satisfied with the excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation.
MENUS: If anything, the main menu - which is animated, is a slight bit less easy to navigate than it should be.
The Making of "U2: Elevation Tour": This is a 25-minute documentary focusing on not only the alteration of the space to make for a concert presentation as well as integrating filming equipment into the middle of a massive show. Offering interviews with director Hamish Hamilton (who is quite funny) and other members of the crew, we learn about the enormous effort that it takes and all of the elements that have to click to make this filming event and live show happen. Some considerable problems occur and we are let in on them, but, everything eventually goes ok - and this is a very fine program that lets us in on how everything came together to produce a fine concert documentary.
Multi-Angle Concert Presentation: The second disc offers most of the concert once again, in multi-angle fashion. Once I got a hang of how to use this section, it presented a fun and enjoyable new way of viewing the show. This feature offers the show in a large viewing window, while two smaller windows on the left side of the screen offer what's going on in the other two perspectives. The three perspectives are: actual production, fan-cam (from the audience) and director's room. While the "director's room" feature doesn't sound that entertaining, director Hamish Hamilton never stops moving. Jumping around, often singing along to the songs and giving orders to the crew capturing the show, it's interesting to watch the director at work.
My problems with this feature: It would have been more enjoyable to have this feature able to be used with the multi-angle button on the remote control instead of how it is set-up here. There are three different little logos that correspond to the three different angles, which are located below the 2 boxes that show the other angles. Clicking on one of these brings up a different angle on the screen. These little logos that have to be clicked on are white and they're on a grey/white background, making them not particularly easy to see.
Also, this feature doesn't offer the entire show, either. The tracks that aren't included in this presentation are; "Beautiful Day", "Until The End of the World", "Kite", "New York", "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "Desire", "The Fly". There is a track list (in #'s) at the bottom, and the numbers for the tracks included are shown in white, while those not are shown in grey.
The picture quality and sound quality varies with the three angles: The main show angle seemed to boast the exact same picture quality as the main presentation on disc one; the fan-cam looked not as smooth or well-defined and the director's room perspective looked grainy and digital, like it was shot with a basic video camera. All three angles are presented with dolby 2.0 audio - the main angle sounded clear and crisp, while the fan-cam sounded considerably less clear and rather thin at times. The director's room perspective also sounded rather rough, but what was being said could be understood. Last, but not least, the director's perspective was not available on every song and there seemed to be a few, brief moments where the "fan-cam" perspective wasn't available. When one of the other angles isn't available, an animated logo comes up.
While this multi-angle presentation was enjoyable, it wasn't without some concerns and it didn't seem quite like the optimal way to go about what was attempted here.
Road Movie: This is a 5 minute presentation that shows, in time-lapse photography, the begining to the end of the presentation - building the stage, setting up, the show, and taking everything down again.
Additional Tracks: All in 2.0 audio: "Elevation" from Miami (the picture also has "time code" on it), "Beautiful Day" from Toronto and "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" from Dublin. Also included are little promos for the "Pop Mart" tour and "Zoo TV" tour.
DVD-ROM: Web-link & screensavers.
Final Thoughts: U2 puts on one hell of a show in this terrific and highly entertaining effort captured during their latest tour. The DVD is also one of the stronger music DVD releases that I've seen in recent memory, as it not only boasts exceptional audio/video quality, but enjoyable supplements. Concerns with some of the interactivity aside, this is a solid release that is definitely recommended for fans of the band.