The biggest band in the world did something completely revolutionary on their 2001 tour… they took a step back.
In the eighties and nineties, U2 was a band that became big. Huge. Their shows grew from arenas to stadiums, incorporating massive special effects, a giant lemon-shaped disco ball, and the largest video screen ever. As the productions grew, however, so did the costs, until the band was barely breaking even on the road, despite enormous audiences and absurd ticket prices. After some time off and a…new album, the band returned to the arenas where they first hit it big. This DVD set features the Boston, MA show from the Elevation tour in its entirety. The performance is not only fantastic, but completely honest and real. It is, as the saying goes, all that you can’t leave behind.
There are two audio presentations of the show, PCM Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1. For what may be the first time in history, I actually prefer the Stereo track to the 5.1 track. This disc has fallen victim to the plague of many concert DVDs; failure to hit a balance between ambient noise and the music itself. A little bit of crowd noise is a good thing, as it helps the listener to hear what the performance actually sounded like on the day of the recording. Crowd noise and reverberations are part of the live sound experience, so they should certainly be included. However, there is too much of that here, and the result is a track that is a bit muddy and a tad flat. It’s good, but not great.
The Stereo track, however, is brilliant. Most of what you hear is the band alone, with just enough reverberation to give it that live feel. The bass notes are tight, and there are lots of them. Edge’s guitar sings in the upper frequency range. Larry’s drums are clear and blissfully acoustic. This is a great, great mix, and it is much cleaner than the surround mix. Highly recommended.
It’s hard to tell how good the video transfer is on this title, because it is a concert video, after all. What is for sure is that the clarity is excellent. Every minute detail is here, from Edge’s guitar pick to Larry’s swinging earring. The few bits that aren’t razor-sharp are the shots filmed through the “Bono-cam”, a special camera fitted into Bono’s trademark shades.
The color quality is the only questionable aspect of the video on this disc. Stage lighting bends color tones into new and unique hues, making it almost impossible to tell what the original performance looked like. I suspect that the colors are a faithful representation of the actual event, but there’s just no way to tell.
The special features on this set are really top-notch. Nothing is standard fare, save the addition of some DVD-ROM features. First up is “The Making of Elevation Live”, a fantastic documentary on the making of the tour, and what goes into filming a live performance. Informative and sometimes humorous narration by The Edge makes this a highly entertaining piece.
The next segment is entitled “Another Perspective”. This lets the viewer switch the audio and video between the final performance, the floor of the arena, and the video control room. This is a very cool piece, and the control room feed is particularly interesting (and frequently quite comical) to watch.
“Road Movie” is a time lapse bit from the entire day, from the arrival of the crew, through the admission of fans, the activity at the merchandise tables, the concert itself, the exodus of the fans and tear down. This entire process takes place in about six minutes during this fast paced synopsis of the day.
Lastly, the band has included some additional performances, consisting of five snippets from other U2 concert videos and performances. All together, this is a great set, with some nice extras that are not commonly found on most music performance DVD’s.
Performance DVD’s are always hard to draw conclusions from, because the end result is almost always, “if you like this artist, you will like this DVD. If you do not like this artist, this is probably not for you.” While that is also the case here, I feel that this two-disc set has a little more to offer than the standard musical fare. The control room camera and the excellent documentary make this title appeal to a broader audience than most concert videos. There is a reason that U2 are one of the greatest bands in the world, and this disc does a great job of showing us just how great pop music can get.
Special Features List
- The Making of Elevation Live
- Another Perspective
- Road Movie
- Additional Tracks
- DVD-ROM Content