PictureAs with the HD DVD version, this new remastered picture is quite simply breathtaking. The video is presented in a 1080P theatrical correct ratio and offers a significant upgrade over the DVD version. It seems to be equal to the HD DVD version.
The picture is outstandingly sharp, especially considering the source. This transfer looks far better than many more recent feature films I have seen on HD. There is some grain in the transfer but this is minimal and just adds to the realism of the transfer. The level of detail is stunning - every strand of hair, every vein on Mercury's face, and every string on the guitars is visible. When Roger is shown in close-up, the details present on his kit is a revelation. You can see even more clearly the work that Brian puts in on the guitar - almost being able to replicate his chords and hand movements.
Colour is also amazing. Queen were (justifiably) well know for their lighting rigs, and the rig here is quite a challenge to replicate, being a wide ranging mix of colours. The DVD does show some bleeding, but none of this is present on the Blu ray version. The colours are vibrant and clear, even during Brian's solo when they descent to almost head height.
Shadow detail is also excellent, even when the band members are shrouded in shadow you can still clearly see their silouhettes, which gives a very clever effect. There is one moment when the stage goes from darkness to bright explosions across the whole stage from right to left. Whereas the DVD suffers from some blooming here, the HD DVD suffers from no such problems.
Queen have put sterling work into this restoration, and HD shows it off to the ultimate standard. This is a breathtaking picture to accompany a breathtaking concert, and there is nothing to choose between the HD DVD and the Blu ray version.
SoundLike the HD DVD, the Blu ray has the concert presented with a LPCM stereo track, and a DTS HD 96/24 Surround track. Queen have long been affiliated with DTS, and their DVD Audio discs have been presented in DTS, so it is no surprise to see the track on this disc.
For this review I listened to the DTS HD track, allowing the PS3 to decode the core and output it to my Onkyo 605.
I immediately noticed a vast difference between this and the HD DVD version. There is no way this should be the case, bearing in the mind the tracks should be identical. This is most likely down to the performance of my hardware in each case.
The Blu ray soundtrack is outstanding and from the opening roars displays a breadth and quality that simply excites almost as much as if you were there. The rears are filled with ambient crowd noise, and are occasionally used for musical sounds such as delay effects on guitar and voice. This gives a real sense of submersion in the sound field.
The front stereo separation also seems much greater here, with the front field being pleasingly wide and spacious. The center speaker gets no use here, as this is the way the track has been mixed, but the sub gets some excellent use, particularly during effects heavy passages.
Having experienced this concert in every way, this disc displays the pinnacle of the way the concert has ever sounded. This is a major upgrade, and sounds simply stunning.
ExtrasAs with most Queen discs, the extras here are copious. We start with the Live Aid set in its entirety. This is also presented in stereo and DTS, and is shown in a 4:3 ratio. I am absolutely sure that Queen's performance at this concert needs no comment from me and it is great to see it here, even if the picture does not seem to be remastered. We also get the performance of Is This The World We Created that Brian and Freddie did later on that evening.
Following this is a fascinating 11 minute snippet of Queen rehearsing on a soundstage for the concert, interspersed with an interview from the band at the time prior to the concert. A fascinating document, showing the band in full flow working hard - and the interview shows them being very honest and open about the whole process.
Finally, we get a 5 minute TV interview from 1982 which is interesting for it's novelty value, and a weblink to a microsite.
The main feature has a commentary from Brian and Roger, which can also be viewed via subtitles if you don't want to disturb the audio. The commentary is also very open and honest and adds a good counterpoint to the concert itself. Ranging from technical insights into the musicianship to bemoaning the state of music today (just who were the band they had just watched at Wembley who were miming all the way through?) this is an excellent listen.
VerdictThis is possibly the finest Queen concert to have made it onto home media, and is presented here in an excellent package. The concert displays a raw energy and tension which really does enhance the performance of the band, viewed when they were at the height of their powers.
The remastering has made the picture truly revelatory, revealing detail that was hitherto unseen in previous versions, although sadly the sound does not live up to the quality of the rest of the package. This may have been down to the 360 add-on decoding rather than the soundtrack presented though.
Finally, we get a decent extras package including the entire legendary Live Aid performance. Put all these aspects together and you get an absolutely essential disc for Queen fans, and something that music fans should definitely check out. Highly recommended.
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