U2 - Zoo TV Live From Sydney

It’s been a long wait, but finally the day has come – the first promo for the new (old) Zoo TV Live From Sydney (Popup LinkCover) is here. Gone are the days in which we had to battle with our worn videotape copy, while many people had already simply downloaded illegal DVD copies of the tape from the internet. There had been rumours that the recording of the show from 1993 would be digitally remastered for a DVD release for years, but again and again fans were left disappointed. Then there was a long wait, and the announcement of a U2 DVD box set, then another retraction of that announcement, or the DVD simply disappeared from the record label’s list of releases. Now, however, all of this is history – the new DVD is released on 15 September 2006 in most countries in Europe, and worldwide on 18 and 19 September.
A brief summary of all general information (track list etc.) about the DVD can be found in our DVD-Special.

Packaging

The DVD is released in two versions – single and double DVD. The single DVD contains the concert only, without any of the special or bonus features contained on the second disk. For this review we cannot say anything about the packaging (whether jewel case or digi pack), as only a promo version of the DVDs was available to us – more information on that soon!

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Content

The content of the DVD is exactly the same as that of the video tape release of the same name, released in May 1994. The recording is of the concert from 27 November 1993 in Sydney, part of Leg 5 of the ZooTV (Zoomerang) Tour. The evening before this concert was the only gig not featuring all four members of U2, as bass technician Stuart Morgan replaced Adam.

As with other U2 live DVDs, the concert starts immediately after putting the disk into your DVD player. The main menu offers options for sound and an individual track selection.

Unfortunately the DVD, as did the video release, does not feature the song ‘Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World', which is likely to have been cut from the recording due to legal concerns (Bono brings a fan on stage during the song).

Concert

As the concert itself will be more than familiar to most U2 fans, we won’t go into detail here, with the exception of a few points:

» We notice that we got a whole damn 13 years older since that amazing time
» Bono must have had a lucrative contract with one or another hair spray and gel company
» Adam was surprisingly blonde, and Larry really needed a haircut
» Edge should have started dancing with that belly dancer a bit earlier – they got married in 2002
» It’s nice to see that no one in the audience is fiddling around with their mobile phones or digital cameras all the time
» Bono was still able to sing the higher parts of the songs without problems
» 'Streets' began drenched in red light and continued with the spotlights on the audience – some things should never change
» The ZooTV intro to the shows and Bono’s appearance on stage were the best ever
» In contrast to some video releases in Germany, the burning swastikas during ‘Bullet’ are not blurred.

Picture

To begin with, no editing or picture changes of the concert recording have been made in comparison to the video release – this is shown by a direct comparison of a digitalised version of the video release and the DVD pictures. On the left you can see the DVD version, on the right the video version. There also have been no new angles or other edits. It is a one-to-one transfer from the video version.

Of course, much effort was made to improve the picture quality. Like the video version, the DVD is released in the slightly outdated 4:3 format – though given that the original is in that format, there would have been little sense in editing it into a 16:9 format anyway.

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The colours of the DVD version are much more vivid. At times it only seems like brightness has been overdone a bit – occasionally, when the four band members are under full stage lights, the whole thing can drown in a sea of colours. In contrast to the video version, there are of course no interlacing errors to be found here.

The data rate is continuously high – usually between 5000 and 7000 kBit/s, which is just fine. As a result, even on larger screens hardly any pixel errors can be seen (in contrast to e.g. the Vertigo DVD). Only at a closer look some blurred edges are visible.

In general, then, the picture transfer has been a success. Considering that the original material is 13 years old – that is, given that the original recording was done at a standard well below what is common today – this is well done indeed.

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Sound

The sound is available in Dolby Digital 2.0 (Linear PCM Sound), Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS. The DolbyDigital 5.1 track has been mixed to a high standards. Bono’s voice is very clear, and distinctly recognisable through the centre speakers – the echo of his voice is merely recognisable from the left and right speakers. Where Edge’s voice joins in, this also only comes from the left and right speaker, creating a great spatial sound. The instruments are clear and distinct, as is Larry’s cymbal. The audience during breaks comes from the four speakers left and right. The mix of the DTS track is somewhat more quiet, as usual, but has the same spatial sound as the DolbyDigital track.

A more detailed sound review from our sound guru Phaser will be available here soon.

DVD 2: Bonus Tracks, Documentaries & Extras

Regarding new material, this is the far more interesting disk. Upon inserting the DVD, one is greeted by an animated menu with ‘The Fly’ as background music. Here one has a choice between the bonus tracks, documentaries and extras. The documentaries are in English and partly in German, with subtitles in English, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese. The picture format is 4:3, the sound Dolby Digital 2.0.

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Bonus Tracks:
'Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World' (4:19) is an edit of several concerts from the ZooTV Tour. For this song Bono usually got one (or more) – mainly female – fans on stage, for a dance, a hug and a bottle of champagne. The fans also often got to film Bono and the band with a video camera, to be broadcast live onto the big screens. The song was cut from the concert recording because the girl on stage in Sydney is likely to have been underage.

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Bonus track 2 is 'Desire' (5:18) from the well-known 'Zoo TV Special' filmed in New York’s Yankee Stadium, recorded to promote the ZooTV-Tour. It seems that US censorship had a go here – when Bono greats the audience in his silver suit with "You know somethin’? You’re fucking beautiful", the f-word is covered up by a beep.

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'The Fly' (4:37) and 'Even Better Than The Real Thing' (4:23) are recordings from the Stop Sellafield Concert from 19 June 1992 in Manchester. Both songs have only recently been released on the single for ‘City Of Blinding Lights’. 'The Fly' is the famous version with phrases and words flashing on the screen. 'Even Better Than The Real Thing' is mixed with pictures from nuclear tests and news about protests against nuclear energy and the Sellafield plant.

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Documentaries:
'A Fistful of Zoo TV' (7:50) is an edit of various scenes from the ZooTV era, while a text tracker informs about the materials used for the stage, PA and so on. Brief snippets of Mr. MacPhisto are included in the mix, as well as a reference to the ZooTV Confessionals, which are another extra on the DVD.

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Zoo TV – The Inside Story (4:11)
Brian Eno and The Edge explain how the idea for ZooTV developed from the video for 'The Fly'.

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Trabantland (7:45)
This is the story of the ‘Trabbie’ and U2’s love for it during the time. Paul McGuinness, Anton Corbijn, Bono and others comment. Paul McGuinness explains what the trabant is made of, and another scene shows Larry getting in trouble with the German police – who quite appropriately show up in their own police trabant. Different models of the trabant were used in the Achtung Baby videos, single art work, and ZooTV shows.

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Extras::
For the Video Confessional (5:14) the same subtitles as already mentioned above are available. The ‘Video Confessional’ was located within the standing area of the stadium shows, and fans were invited to ‘confess’ – the results being broadcast onto the big screens during the encore break of the show. This extra is an edit of people from all over the world. Very funny and worth watching.

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Numb Karaoke (4:13)
A special version of the 'Numb Video Remix' to sing along to! Edge’s voice has been cut from the mix, while Bono’s (and Larry’s) vocals remain in the background. The lyrics are shown at the bottom of the screen in the usual karaoke manner.

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DVD-Rom:
Inserting DVD 2 into your PC or Mac gives you access to the CD-Rom Extras. These contain two screen savers and four background pictures for different screen sizes. Unfortunately there is no ‘The Fly’ style screen saver (or even one that allows you to add your own phrases).

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Easter-Eggs: There are three Easter Eggs on the promo DVD (unfortunately we don’t know yet how to access them from a normal DVD player). So far we know two points in the menus where one can access a further menu (‘abort’).

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One of the Easter Eggs is the 24-minute documentary about U2’s history, as originally featured on the 'Achtung Baby - The Videos, the cameos and a whole lot of interference from ZOO TV' video release under the name 'Interference'. Another Easter Egg is a video (1:15) with pictures about nuclear weapons and war. More interesting is the third video (4:16) showing a sped-up version of the setting up and taking down of the ZooTV indoor stage.

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Summary of the Bonus-DVD:
Much of the material featured on the DVD will be familiar to the avid U2 collector, as most of it has been shown on TV or a video somewhere already, and many fans will have collected more ‘bonus’ material from the ZooTV Tour than is available here. Still, let’s be happy that some of this material is finally available in good quality, and official, so that we no longer have to return to our old video tapes. An added bonus is that the ‘Interference’ history is now also available on DVD – though one has to ask why it has been made to difficult to access.

Technical Infos

The data rate of the concert DVD is continuously high (between 5000 and 7000 kBit/s), utilising the DVD’s storage capacity to achieve maximum picture quality. The sound is available in Dolby Digital 2.0 (Linear PCM Sound, 1320MB), Dolby Digital 5.1 (377MB) and DTS (649MB).

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