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U2: ELEVATION LIVE
Reviewed December 10th, 2001 by Brian White

 

U2 have finally entered the DVD age, and thank GOD!! The Popmart and ZooTV videos were announced for DVD, but got put on the back burner when Seagrams bought Polygram, and disrupted many musical projects. As a result, weíve had to wait all this time to see a U2 concert video in the best available format. It was worth the wait. The Elevation Tour is arguably U2 at their best, and a fantastic performance was captured for this great video.

I liked the Popmart and Zoo TV videos. However, I always felt that these concert videos always paled in comparison to the brilliant Secret World Live video by Peter Gabriel, which is also not available on DVD. I had high hopes that the more intimate venue of Bostonís Fleet Center (compared to the stadiums of the previous tours), combined with the proper approach would generate a better video experience. The director here has done a great job in capturing a fantastic U2 performance. I donít know what it was like to be there, but there is much excitement to be found on this disc for any U2 fan.

U2 are in absolute top form here. Itís as though they had something to prove after the much-maligned Popmart tour. While I think some of the criticism of the previous tour was unfounded, I appreciate the return to a more basic rock sound for the band. Donít get me wrong, I welcome any creative departures that a band can throw at their audience. U2ís Pop is a very underrated album. The outlandish tour captured it very well. This new tour is as stripped down as the sound on their new record. U2 are best at this pop rock, and they push all the right buttons on All That You Canít Leave Behind. The smaller-scale show (2/3 the tickets at twice the price = most profitable tour ever for U2) is the perfect exhibition for the bandís talent. After seeing REMís Monster show indoors, I thought ďIíve gotta see U2 inside.Ē They finally did it and itís brilliant.

You get fantastic performances of newer songs, like Stuck in a Moment, and Elevation; and more traditional U2 fare, like Sunday Bloody Sunday, performed in full Ratta-tat Red-rocks style; and a sublime intro to the fantastic Where the Streets have No Name.

How is the video? Well, it looks better than previous efforts, but the video is full-fame, and non-anamorphic. This leads to some jaggedy lines here and there. Also, some of the long shots show so much jagginess that it reminds me of the VHS version of Episode 1. I am more or less happy with this transfer, but it could have been so much better. Thereís no reason for a non-anamorphic transfer when the included documentary shows letter-boxed footage of the show. We get the cropped version because the music audience is apparently too stupid for the widescreen transfer.

How does the disc sound? Great. The sound mix on a concert video is so important in involving the viewer with the experience. This 5.1 mix, supervised by Steve Lillywhite, is really cool. That tingly synth intro to Bad jumps around the mix, as do crowd sounds and several sound elements from the show. This is an immersive mix that really kicks. Added to quality of the mix are the great performances of this great collection of songs. This is a winner, sound-wise.

What about extras? You get a nice behind the scenes documentary about the making of the video. This is quite frank, and funny, and the best extra on the disc. They actually show you the tiny Bonocam that the singer wore in his glasses. You also get a glimpse of Edge screaming at Larry at the warm-up show, shot the night before. There are alternate angles of the show that you can select on Disc 2. Basically you can see the angle featured on Disc 1 (which seems redundant), angles (and sound) from camcorders in the crowd around the stage, or a view of the director in the booth calling out commands to the cameras. Another cool extra is a time-lapse of the setup of the stage. There are additional performances of a few songs, and teasers of the Popmart and Zoo TV videos (I hope this means that theyíre coming out on DVD). The additional performances are mislabeled, as the Top of the Pops performance of Beautiful Day from the rooftop of U2ís hotel in Dublin, is called ďLive from Toronto CanadaĒ in the menu. Speaking of Menus, theyíre pretty cool as well, and in the style of u2.com. Over these menus, you hear intro loops from songs like Bad and numb. One thing that would have made the extras a little better would have been the slightest hint of participation from the group.

If youíre a U2 fan, youíre going to love this 2 disc set. I wish the video was better, but the performance contained, and the cool sound mix, make up for itÖ. Almost.


Set List:
Elevation
Beautiful Day
Until the End of the World
Stuck in a Moment You Canít Get Out Of
Kite
Gone
New York
I Will Follow
Sunday Bloody Sunday
In a Little While
Desire
Stay (Faraway, So Close)
Bad
Where the Streets Have No Name
Bullet the Blue Sky
With or Without You
The Fly
Wake Up Dead Man
Walk On

 

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