Filmed in Mexico City and directed by long-time visual collaborator Lasse Hoile during the Grace For Drowning Tour, the set is a superb representation of the spectacular live experience ... See full summary »
Live versions of the songs, filmed in an old Pompeii amphitheater. Songs included are Echoes (split into 2 parts), Careful with that axe, Eugene, A saucerful of secrets, One of those days, ... See full summary »
After having received my Red Deluxe Edition of Porcupine Tree's "Anesthetize" and watching the DVD twice and Blu-ray once (thanks to my lady so graciously allowing me to hook up her lap top), I can say this is the best concert film I have seen to date. The quality is superb. They have broken new ground for concert films. Not going to review this SE packaging (it is beautiful!) because most of you will be getting the standard DVD or Blu-ray/DVD edition. I almost don't feel it is justified to compare this to any previous films before the era of high definition and surround audio; however, there are some really great films that have also been remastered and re-released on DVD and Blu-ray.
Three things stand out about this concert film: 1) the band's musicianship, 2) the camera work and 3) the sound. If you want to see footage of a band that is at the prime of their career, this is by far one of the best you will find. There are few bands in existence this in tune and connected on stage during a performance. Most any viewer, even an experienced performing musician, can watch this and wonder how much practice it takes to be this good. Even with great musicianship comes expected flaws. That is what gives live performances character. Granted, on this film you will hear deviations from the studio versions of songs, but you will not hear anything that sounds like a screw up. It just doesn't happen with these guys. Steven Wilson and John Wesley feed well off their vocals and guitar playing. Richard Barbieri is hugely proficient keyboardist and track effects artists. I would love to see him perform solo. Colin Edwin is a really cool cat. Aside from being a great bass musician, he also has the facial expression of someone that looks eternally high or exceedingly at peace with his own mortality, not sure of which. And then there is Gavin Harrison... this being that has transcended the vastness of the deep space and the opposite ends of the universe to take up residence here on planet earth as some mythological drum god. If you have any interest in percussion, it is required that you own this film. No questions asked!
I have never seen camera work this good for a concert film. You will notice very few instances of a cameraman caught in the video. You must try hard to find. The shots are edited well and there is very little favoritism to any of the band members. I expected Wilson to have the most film time because he is the lead vocalist; however, if he does have most of the face time, it is hard to notice. There are cameras mounted underneath and overhead of Gavin's drum kit so you get some really spectacular footage of him melting your face. The video quality is excellent. I am not entirely sure if all the cameras were high definition, because there are moments where the transfer appears grainy. I am watching this on a Sony Bravia 1080p 42" LCD flat screen. However, on some shots this could be an intended effect by Hoile. Like the backstage scenes in black and white for example. Most of the shots are clean and crisp with beautiful color transfer, which important for the lighting and setting the mood matte with the music. This all comes off with stunning effect. This is not the highest quality footage compared to big-budgeted films; however, based on concert filming alone, Lasse Hoile, the director, gets an A+ grade.
The sound quality is most impressive, though the DVD version has screwed up menus. I was not the first to notice this, but the author of the DVD transferred the same menu from the Blu-ray version. The receiver (Denon AVR 3310 CI) I am using confirms the DVD includes 2.0 PCM and 5.1 DTS for surround. So even though the menu says DTS HD MA 5.1 and LPCM on the DVD, again, you're only getting PCM and DTS 5.1. Granted this sounds good, but the Blu-ray is where you find some insane sound quality. Here you will find the DTS HD MA and LPCM sources, or 24bit 5.1 and 2.0 Lossless Studio Masters. You need an HDMI receiver that can handle these formats or a Blu-ray player that has the ability to decode straight to analog. Otherwise, your audio will default to the same sources found on the DVD. Not bad, but definitely worth getting a Blu-ray player. I have read reviews by many who recommend an Oppo Universal Format Player. The BDP-80 is affordable and the BDP-83 series is a huge bargain if you're an audiophile. These handle everything, including DVDA and SACD, and will probably lead to Denon dropping the price of their universal player (which is now grossly overpriced). I'll eventually get one. I can't continue hijacking the Blu-ray drive in my girlfriends laptop, so I'm going to have to splurge soon.
Porcupine Tree's "Anethetize" has dethroned the long reigning king, "How The West Was Won" by Led Zeppelin. I have seen some fantastic concert films, including Queen's "Live at Wembely" and "Rocks Montreal and Live Aid," King Crimson's "Deja Vroom," Neil Young's "Heart of Gold' and Roger Water's "In the Flesh" to name a select few. But for now, "Anesthetize" is the new undisputed champion of my collection.
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