U2 360° At The Rose Bowl - Review
Already a week before the official release we've got a copy of the brand new u2 Blu-ray disc. As always at u2tour.de we offer you an in-depth review.
All general infos (tracklist etc.) on the release can be found in our DVD-Special.
The release comes in four formats - standard DVD, limited deluxe edition, limited super deluxe edition, and for the first time also as blu-ray. This review is based on the blu-ray version. Next to the disc, the package contains a 24 page booklet containing tour photos and credits. The concert was filmed in 16:9 format, you can choose between following sound sources: Stereo, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 und Dolby Digital 5.1. The discs full content, including bonus material, stretches to 4 hours and 11 minutes, the concert itself 2 hours and 17 minutes. The bonus material is available with Dolby Digital Stereo sound. There are subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese for the bonus material.
U2 360° At The Rose Bowl is U2's movie documentary of their 360° tour, shot on 25 October 2009 in Pasadena, California. The concert was the first to be broadcast live on YouTube, and was the largest ever live internet broadcast at the time.
The concert is contained in full, though the opening track of the night - 'Breathe' - has been moved into the bonus section, so that the recording kicks off with 'Get On Your Boots'.
Before the concert, by the way, we see our old friend the Zooropa baby taking an interstellar trip down from its space station to the Rose Bowl to watch U2's gig. U2 try to prepare the viewer for a trip, they often compared the stage to a spaceship.
The newly cut opening with intro 'Kingdom', followed by 'Get On Your Boots', works better than feared by many fans, even though it cannot quite match the choreography and atmosphere of 'Breathe'. It clearly makes the opening more powerful, which for people who haven't seen the tour live probably works better, but for the rest of us still comes as a bit of a disappointment.
The next three songs ('Magnificent', 'Mysterious Ways' und 'Beautiful Day') are solid, but real audience enthusiasm doesn't arrive until 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For', with the fans singing the whole opening verse more or less on their own. From then on, Bono also starts to communicate with the audience more directly, completed by a good acoustic version of 'Stuck In A Moment' by Bono and Edge.
During 'No Line On The Horizon', in contrast, it quickly becomes noticeable that to most of the audience this is a new song. Next, 'Elevation', works much better as a wake up moment, including the visual experience, and not jumping out of your seat becomes increasingly more difficult! This is followed by 'In A Little While', as a duet with astronaut Frank De Winne, which European fans didn't get to see during the first leg of the tour. 'Unknown Caller' and 'Until The End Of The World' once more dampen the audience mood somewhat, before the beautifully played 'The Unforgettable Fire' opens the visually most exciting part of the evening. Even on TV the extendable stage screen is impressive, and reflects the live experience of the tour well.
'City of Blinding Lights' and 'Vertigo' are a blast, and the segment is rounded up by probably the best live song of the tour, the remix version of 'I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight' - though it causes quite a few baffled faces in the audience!
The political and emotional transition from there to 'Sunday Bloody Sunday', reminding us of the failed green revolution in Iran, is even more in your face - good vs evil - thanks to two American flags (on stage and above the stadium). The transition to the two other overtly political songs, 'MLK' and 'Walk On', work better, followed by Bishop Tutu's speech intro to the encore, and 'One'. 'Amazing Grace' is a particularly beautiful gem, and makes for a great lead into the audience highlight 'Where The Streets Have No Name'.
'Ultra Violet', my second tour highlight, opens with a short video sequence featuring the Zooropa Baby, and even from disc nothing of the song's intensity and great stage show and lighting is lost. 'With Or Without You' and 'Moment Of Surrender' finally conclude the set.
Overall, the recording makes for an emotional and really enjoyable memory of last year's concerts. One may moan about the at times somewhat passive American audience, but director Tom Krueger successfully uses these moments to focus on the band and their skilful playing. Particularly the colourful, atmospheric shots make this recording an experience, and the band's routine at this late stage of the tour doesn't result in boredom, but more fun being on stage. The concert doesn't quite match the energy and enthusiasm of the Slane Castle DVD, but is better than the more recent Boston and Chicago tour recordings. A real shame, then, that the next part of the 360° Tour seems to be on hold for now, as watching the band live here definitely re-awakens one's appetite - if not hunger! - for more U2 concerts.
The recording impresses through its sharp, high definition picture and gigantic sounds from the very start. With the right equipment at home you can indeed bring U2 into your living room, with nearly perfect gig atmosphere. And, while the most has been made of audio technology, it is good to see that it hasn't been used to polish the experience too much - Bono's voice can be heard to break at times, and Edge's vocals are crystal clear in the background.
Following o the YouTube broadcast, the recording has been re-edited, though of course many camera angles and changes remain the same. That said, those small changes now give the whole recording a more consistent, better flow throughout.
Compared to the concert recordings from the last tour, the shots by director Tom Krueger seem far more calm than those of the previous director Hamish Hamilton. But it certainly doesn't get boring! Particularly impressive are the wide overhead shots of the whole stadium, including from a helicopter - which only further underlines how gigantic that 360° stage really is.
On the Bonus-DVD and the Blu-ray Disc you will find several bonus tracks. Beside already released material on u2.com you can also find some new stuff.
This 35 minute documentary offers more than just a brief look behind the scenes of the 360° Tour. It offers insights into the intense development of the tour, from the first sketch, interviews with designers and architects to the building of the stage in Barcelona, complete with further interviews with the band, manager Paul McGuinness and more or less all other main players of the production, such as sound man Joe O`Herlihy, video designer Catherine Owens and 'tour consultant' Gavin Friday.
Some of the documentary will be known from the short clips on u2.com, back from the opening gig in Barcelona last year, but there is now lots of additional material with new perspectives and background information. In half an hour, the interested fan will now find out everything from how the tour got on the road to the great risk taken by all to make it work. As Bono puts it, 'If the first show hadn't worked, it would have been all over'.
These consist of 'Welcome to Milano!' (Milan), 'The Spotlighter' (Barcelona), 'Dublin Awaits' (Dublin), 'Edge Backstage at the Rose Bowl' (Rose Bowl), 'Aung San Suu Kyi' (Dublin), 'The North American Launch' (Chicago), 'CN Tower' (Toronto), and 'Red & White' (Poland).
Paying members of u2.com won't find anything new here, but it's still nice to see the clips in a better and bigger format. Particularly impressive are the shots from the fan 'surprise' intervention in Poland, though the sound is nearly unbearable.
'Breathe', the actual opening song of the concert, at least made it onto the disc as a bonus track. Unfortunately the song has been edited somewhat strangely, with the opening sequence with intro song 'Kingdom' cut more or less completely, and sound and picture quality are noticeably worse than the rest of the recording. Why U2 treat this song with so much disdain remains a bit of a mystery.
The complete set up and take down of the 360° stage in Berlin, in a time lapse recording. This clip was also previously available on u2.com, but it remains a great example of the complexity that had to be mastered by U2's crew every single night.
Impressions from the tour opening in Barcelona, which particular gives the fans a chance to show their enthusiasm. The seven minute clip was once more previously available on u2.com.
The same thing, this time ten minutes from the perspective of fans in Chicago - and again known material from u2.com.
These consist of 'Get On Your Boots' (Video), 'Magnificent' (Video), 'I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight' (Animated Video), 'I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight' (Live At Barcelona), 'The Making Of 'Get On Your Boots' (Video), and 'The Making Of 'Magnificent' (Video).
Here we find the known videos from U2's last album, plus the making of videos of 'Get On Your Boots' and 'Magnificent' - both of which are known from u2.com.
You can find further infos in our Video-archive:
» Get On Your Boots
» I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (Animated)
» I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (Live At Barcelona)
Not 'Beautiful Day' live, but the blu-ray bonus material, which can be downloaded from the internet. The material consists of Edge's tour photo gallery, screen savers, desktop web links and links to u2.com. Most interesting are Edge's tour photos, many of which will be know from his Twitter stream, but make for a very personal tour memory. The rest is somewhat superfluous. We're looking forward to some more content after the official release of the Blu-ray after June 4th.
The only Easter Egg we managed to find on the blu-ray is the known countdown to the Barcelona concert called '21Days till 360°', which last year featured as a short clip a day for three weeks before the gig on u2.com. Here the feature comes complete with all clips in sequence.
Right at the moment we don't have a Super Deluxe Edition for review. As soon as we get it we will extend our review in this section.
The Super Deluxe Edition will contain following additional content:
» 32 page hardback book
» Coloured vinyl 7" in sleeve
» Three plectrums in embossed wallet
» Claw concept blueprint
» Five art prints in embossed wallet
Video format: 16:9, 1080i
Audio concert: PCM Stereo, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 und Dolby Digital 5.1
Audio bonus material: Dolby Digital Stereo
Review by Björn Lampe; Correction and translation by Sebastian Stoye und Malte Gerhold; Technical Realisation by Flo Zerweck and Didi Reicht