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Image Entertainment presents
"Well, I - hang on, hang on, hang on, hang on. See, with this band, if we just don't get it right, we start again. And that's what we're gonna do. 1, 2, a 1, 2, 3, 4! Well I always knew/I was just crazy for you - "
DVD ReviewPaul McCartney's first project after the death of his wife Linda was an album entitled Run Devil Run. A collection of oldies rock songs and new songs written in the same style, the album was a way for McCartney to get loose and play like he used to. While promoting the album, McCartney decided to play at the Cavern Club, where The Beatles played nearly four decades earlier. So, on December 14th, 1999, Paul McCartney and his supporting band, including Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice, played for 300 people at the Cavern Club, while thousands of others watched via the internet.
A covers album was a particularly good idea on McCartney's part. As it is, McCartney's solo career has been exceedingly spotty. Even his very best albums, such as McCartney, Band On The Run, and Tug of War, have their share of filler tracks and cheesy songs which sounded dated at the time of their original release. A covers album allowed McCartney to choose a collection of songs free of filler or cheesiness, and the few original songs on the album are so good that they sometimes sound better than the classics presented. Add to this the fact that McCartney has a real affection for every song here, and you get a fantastic set of songs, performed energetically and lovingly by a man who has deservedly earned his place in rock history.
The performances on Live At The Cavern Club are spectacular. McCartney in particular is in fine form, rocking out with abandon, and taking the time to trade banter with the audience (pay attention to a heckler in the crowd, he's related to Paul!). The fact that the Cavern Club is so small gives the whole thing an intimate atmosphere, making the performances seem all the more lively, because the performers are so close to us and the real audience. David Gilmour and Mick Green play their guitars with energy. It's nice to see Gilmour doing something other than trying to recapture the fame and success he had when Pink Floyd was still an innovative band (That's what you get for dumping Roger Waters, Dave!).
I do have to say that the directing here is terrible. Most of it contains fast cuts from person to person. The only time we see any shots of the whole band is when McCartney is talking in between songs. And the director has a penchant for showing other people when Gilmour or Green are doing guitar solos. Too often did I hear an amazing guitar line from Gilmour without being able to see him playing it. This isn't Stop Making Sense, this is just Paul McCartney laying down some Rock 'n' Roll. We don't need to see this overinflated sense of style—just play it straight and simple. I want to see the guitarist when they take a lead, and I want to see the whole band playing together. I didn't get a sense of connection between the band members from the visuals, although I could hear it in the music.
Too often while watching something McCartney has done in his career have I found myself wincing in embarrassment for him. I'm glad to say that through the entire running length of Live At The Cavern Club, I had a huge smile on my face. And that's something Paul McCartney hasn't given me for a long time. Here's hoping he continues in this sort of laid back vein, as opposed to trying to do something ambitious. It worked for Sgt. Pepper, Paul, but don't push it.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: A
Image Transfer Review: This looks good. No grain, no dust, no artifacts. Colors are nice and vibrant. Also, it's anamorphically enhanced at 1.78:1. Considering the way it looks, I'd say it was shot at that aspect ratio and not matted later. With such a great transfer, it's a shame it's directed so poorly.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: Not one, but two 5.1 mixes. Not bad. First we have the Dolby Digital mix. This is a pretty good mix. The rears are used mostly for audience noise, but during the songs they're used to create faint echoes. The songs are loud and powerful; Paul's bass is especially audible. But as good as the Dolby Digital mix is, the DTS mix is noticeably better. It creates a much wider and expansive soundfield. The music also sounds clearer than on the Dolby Digital mix. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between Dolby Digital and DTS, but in this case, the DTS mix wins hands down. We also get a stereo mix for those of you without surround sound.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 10 cues
Cast and Crew Biographies
Layers Switch: Unknown
We also get two music videos. The video for Brown Eyed Handsome Man is downright embarrassing. Don't watch it, please. The video for No Other Baby is more stylish, and is a better song anyway. We get very brief bios of the band members, and a short history of the Cavern Club (which reads more like a brochure than a history). All in all, I spent a lot of time with the extras, and came away with a lot of information.
Extras Grade: B+
Final CommentsWhile not an in-concert masterpiece, Live At The Cavern Club is a good way to see Paul McCartney playing a great set of tunes with a talented band. If you're a McCartney fan, you have to pick this up.
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