PictureThe concert looks to have been recorded on video as opposed to film and does sometimes struggle to contain the extremely vivid colours on stage. This is likely to be a failing of the original video master rather than the disc encoding though, since the transfer goes all out to squeeze every last bit of colour and detail from the original footage. For the most part it succeeds too; framed at 1.77:1 (to perfectly fit 16:9 widescreen displays) and anamorphically enhanced, the bit rate on this transfer is set high enough to put some superbit transfers to shame (in data rate terms at least) with the players bit rate meter rarely dropping below 9Mbps throughout the concerts' 94 minute running time. The result is a picture which probably looks as good if not better than the original footage with no macroblocks evident even when pushed up onto a 7 foot screen. Some banding is intermittently visible but it's rare and not too intrusive. The only down side to this high bit rate approach is the layer change. Timed at approximately 57'50, between two tracks, the picture pauses as the audience reacts then continues which, given the immersive nature of a live performance, is a little jarring especially if you're viewing on a front projection screen.
SoundSupplied with a choice of DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1 or a stereo track there should be something here for everyone. I reviewed both the stereo and DD 5.1 tracks and it's the latter I would recommend for most home cinema fans. The stereo track is very well produced with some good dynamic mixing evident and will probably be better for those with stereo facilities only, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 track definitely trumps it in bringing the sheer ambience and atmosphere of the concert into your screening room. Resisting the urge to simply lock the vocals to the front and the audience effects to the rear, there are some excellent moments of audio panning with the banjo track in Sing being a particularly good example. Fans of low down bass will not be disappointed either, with the LFE track underscoring performances of the gigs more rock oriented tracks.
ExtrasApart from the set list allowing access to the individual tracks out of sequence, the only extra present is a short (22 minute) behind the scenes featurette. With the option to watch in sections (“Arrival at Ally Pally”, “Preparations”, “Rehearsing”, “With The Fans”, “Nerves” and “Before During And After - The Gig”) or as one programme, we get to follow the band from their arrival (discussing what terror lurks in your Christmas sausage!) through a promotional meeting and greeting session with some fans (including a group who enjoyed a little too much free hospitality before the show) right through to their cool down after the performance. It's not an in depth extra but it it's relevant, entertaining and at least adds value over the CD.
VerdictWhilst there's nothing too original about the camerawork or the stage show, this looks to have been a fantastic concert with an excellent set of performances from Fran and the gang. If you're a fan of the band then buy now and, for best results, run on a projector screen and select the Dolby Digital or DTS tracks.
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