PictureI watched this DVD upscaled through my EP 35 onto my Samsung HD television and the result was nothing short of spectacular. I had just finished watching the live concert of the big budget War of the Worlds performance before watching this - and the biggest complement I can pay Under the Night Sky is that it compared extremely favourably.
This, to be honest, came as quite a surprise as I was not expecting such a sterling result from this DVD. The first thing to note is the sharpness of the picture. Admittedly, I was upscaling, but the sharpness of the picture, and the detail present, was revelatory. When watching Luggeri working his guitar you can clearly see each string being hit and the shapes that he is making. Obviously, the level of detail in the faces is not up to the standard of HD, but you can still clearly see a good level of facial detail on the two performers, and this helps make you feel really involved in the performance.
Likewise, the colour level on this DVD is similarly impressive. The light show that the duo provide is certainly not the most impressive you will ever see, but the colours are beautifully represented on this transfer. The delineation between the different colours of the lights is always clear and well marked, and there is a warmth to this transfer that is very impressive for a DVD.
Having been almost exclusively HD for the last year (working for this site leaves little time for watching my own DVDs), the few times I have gone back to SD has always left me feeling very disappointed. However, the transfer here did a lot to impress me - something that surprised and pleased me in equal measure.
SoundThe sound mix is presented in two varieties. A standard stereo mix, or the version I opted for - the DD 5.1 mix. I bitstreamed this to my Onkyo 605.
The first thing to notice is how aggressive this mix is. The fronts and rears all get a good workout from the very start of the concert, yet in this mix the whole effect did seem rather fake. The reason for this, I think, is that we didn't get much sound from the audience in the rear speakers. Instead, the sound designers seems to have taken the standard mix and just run it through the fronts and rears. So whilst at first you think you are getting a decent surround mix, when you really listen carefully, you are getting very little “left” and “right” variation at all.
The rather strange and unusual result of this is that the sound sounds very narrow and long, if that makes sense with very little width to the right and left of your sitting position. To be fair, this is something that bugs me with a lot of concert 5.1 mixes, so it is not unique to this mix. It is also, perhaps, to do with the fact that the two performers are quite close together on a small stage.
The actual detail of the instruments and vocals, however, are very impressive. Every note, and syllable can be very clearly heard and there is no instance where the vocals outweigh the instruments or vice versa.
ExtrasWe are provided with a very interesting, if little repetitive Commentary featuring Dee and Luggeri, and an extra Live set from the Shepherd's Bush Empire.
VerdictThis disc is a very pleasant surprise indeed. Fans of Dee and Luggeri are going to be in nirvana with this release thanks to the excellent picture quality, and decent sound mix.
If you have never heard of the duo though, you may perhaps be a little more cautious. Although there are missteps throughout this concert, it is plain to see that the duo are thoroughly enjoying their performance and this is certainly infectious, coming across well to the viewer.
In this age of more and more spectacular music concerts, where the lights and effects seem to be of more importance than the music, it is a pleasure to see two artists just performing together in an intimate setting. If you are at all interested in music and it's performance you should certainly check this release out. You are unlikely to be disappointed.
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