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Image Entertainment presents
The Go-Go's: Live in Central Park (2001)

"We got the beat. We got the beat. We got the beat. Yeah! We got it!"
- The Go-Go's, We Got the Beat

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: December 06, 2001

Stars: The Go-Go's
Other Stars: Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey, Kathy Valentine, Gina Schock
Director: Dave Diomedi

Manufacturer: Ritek
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (brief language)
Run Time: 01h:06m:02s
Release Date: December 11, 2001
UPC: 014381130423
Genre: pop


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ B+CD+ B-

DVD Review

In the early 1980s, a record producer reworked the sound and tempo of an obscure all-girl punk band called The Go-Go's. The result was a pop juggernaut that spawned several successful albums and numerous hit singles, making stars of lead singer Belinda Carlisle and guitarist/vocalist Jane Wiedlin, both of whom embarked upon solo careers after the band began to break up under the stress of sudden success and competing egos. Recently, the group reunited and released a well received album of new material, God Bless the Go-Go's. The Go-Go's: Live in Central Park captures the group's 2001 twilight concert appearance in New York City.

Reunion tours are often driven by commercial considerations alone, and it's a relief to see that The Go-Go's have a few new things to say and sing about. The band's members have matured musically—Carlisle has developed a smoother singing style that often calls Natalie Merchant to mind, and guitarists Charlotte Caffey and Kathy Valentine seem more confident with their instruments—but retained the energy of the old days—Wiedlin maintains her slightly addled perkiness, and percussionist Gina Schock still chews gum while drumming at full speed. There's a fun, casual feel to the performance—Carlisle laughs and loses her lyrics at one point, and the overall impression is one of youth recaptured by five old friends.

The songs in the concert lineup are a mixture of old and new, most in the beat-based, guitar-driven style characteristic of The Go-Go's in their prime. There are also a few nods to the group's punk roots, with a brief excerpt from Lou Reed's All Tomorrow's Parties and a cover of a classic Ramones tune. The 18 songs performed include:

Head Over Heels
Skidmarks On My Heart
Stuck In My Car
How Much More
Apology
Vacation
Insincere
Sonic Superslide
Automatic
Automatic Rainy Day
This Town
Unforgiven
Beatnik Beach
Our Lips Are Sealed
La La Land
We Got The Beat
Throw Me A Curve
I Wanna Be Sedated


The Go-Go's: Live in Central Park isn't a great example of the concert film as a genre—it was taped "live" during a single performance, with a "rushed" quality about it. The visual production brings nothing new to the table, with swooping fish-eye views of the cheering audience, alternating wide and close shots, and a few bits of standard-issue gimmickry, including the old depth-of-field warping trick. The audio is sometimes anchored to the onscreen placement of the performers, but the effect isn't consistent; worse, the mixing and recording are substandard, with some vocals indistinct against the drums and guitars and some bits missed altogether. And it must be said that a lot of the band's songs sound similar, especially when heard in quick succession like this.

Still, fans of The Go-Go's of the 1980s will find much to enjoy here. It's great fun to see the band in its element, and when Belinda Carlisle hints that she really doesn't want to sing the grammatically awkward We Got The Beat yet again, she assumes that we're all mature enough to roll our eyes at our own youthful tastes and listen to it anyway. And she's absolutely right.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The Go-Go's: Live in Central Park is presented in its original 1.33:1 made-for-cable full-frame aspect ratio. The production was shot "live" on videotape with multiple cameras during a single performance, and the presentation has a soft look overall, with middling detail and colors that occasionally wash out under the stage lighting. The DVD transfer is competent, and the image isn't marred by excessive edge enhancement, but it's an acceptable, average concert-on-videotape, nothing more.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Go-Go's: Live in Central Park features a variety of audio tracks—a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and a DTS 5.1 track. Unfortunately, limitations of the live recording and mixing process afflict all three presentations—vocals are often obscured by instrumentation, banter among the performers is sometimes missed, and the concert seems to have been poorly "miked" in general. The Dolby 2.0 track is in simple stereo, with no surround effects; the 5.1 tracks retain a similarly front-oriented music mix, centering the lead vocals and moving audience noise into the rear channels. The DTS track exhibits smoother but weaker bass than does the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and none of the soundtracks is particularly impressive. The DVD is listenable, but no one would mistake it for a studio recording, and it's well below recent concert film standards.

Audio Transfer Grade: D+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 18 cues and remote access
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Alpha
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Image's DVD features 19 text-menu chapter stops, 18 of which double as musical track selections, dynamic full-motion menus, and a few substantial supplements.

The 29-minute Behind the Scenes documentary consists of material shot prior to the concert, along with interviews related to the group's recent album, God Bless the Go-Go's. The pre-show footage is fascinating to watch and listen to—there's a great sense of camaraderie among the band's members, and drummer Gina Schock recounts several anecdotes about the "early days." Fan testimonials gathered from the line outside Central Park document the continuing popularity of the Go-Go's, and even the "electronic press kit" promotional interviews contain a few valuable nuggets of trivia and insight.

There's also a brief, 4-and-a-half-minute In Retrospect featurette, which combines some of the material seen in the longer documentary with vintage photos, music video clips and concert footage from the early 1980s. It's not as informative as the longer documentary, and it all goes by fairly quickly, but it's not a waste of disc space by any means.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

The Go-Go's: Live in Central Park captures an energetic live performance by the reunited pop/rock group of the 1980s. The concert includes old hits and interesting new work, the disc includes a few worthwhile supplements, and Go-Go's fans will thoroughly enjoy this DVD presentation despite its audiovisual shortcomings.

 


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