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Kultur presents
Dubliners: Live (2002)

"The next song, ladies and gentlemen, tells us something about the Irish love triangle. In the Irish love triangle there are three parties involved: a man and a woman and drink."
- Sean Cannon

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: October 07, 2005

Stars: Ronnie Drew, John Sheahan, Barney McKenna, Bob Lynch, Eamonn Campbell, Jim McCann, Sean Cannon, Paddy Reilly
Director: David Donaghy

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 02h:28m:48s
Release Date: July 26, 2005
UPC: 032031315495
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Not too many bands can lay claim to celebrating 40 years together. Maybe they're not household names today, but the Dubliners can lay stake to that very claim, and though they have had something of a rotating lineup over the course of their long and storied career (including a couple of member deaths), their presentation of Irish folk music, sea chanties and rousing story songs has helped keep them almost ageless.

In 2002, all of the surviving members got back together, now far older and grayer than they were when a writer in the early 1970s said that they "looked like they'd just been dragged out of a seedy bar via a hedge backwards, and dropped on London from a very great height."

The Pogues may have infused Irish drinking songs with a stumbling punk cool in the early 1980s, but deep down their music was built on traditional foundations. The Dubliners are the real deal, crooning rousing Irish ditties that are rich with history, legend, romance, and, of course, drink, all played on madolins, banjos, tin whistles, and fiddles. It is a stripped down and simple sound, with lead vocal duties rotating often among Sean Cannon, Paddy Reilly, Jim McCann or Ronnie Drew, and most songs having long spoken intros tracing their origins.

For this live set—a rerelease of a 2003 MVD title that to the best of my knowledge is essentially the same, save for some text changes on the cover—Disc 1 (01h:06m:05s) and Disc 2 (01h:22m:43s) carry nearly two and a half hours of tunes from guys that may look like your grandfather. But that matters little on this set of story songs mostly about drinking and women that beg to be sung along with. The camera work is effective and simple, alternating between long shots of the band lined up in a row across the stage to closeups of the vocalist for a particular song—hardly kinetic or flashy, but perfectly agreeable for the performance, where it's not at all about dramatic solos or fancy lighting.

I've always had a soft spot for Irish-themed folk music, and if you've ever found yourself in a pub sipping a tall Guinness while some guys pour their heart out on stage recounting tales of emotional woe, you should find something welcoming here. This is the kind of music best enjoyed over a pint of something dark with a room full of good friends, where the raspy deep-voiced rumble of founder Ronnie Drew all but commands you to get another round.

Set List:

Feromy Lassies
Sporting Paddy
The Foggy Dew
The Rare Oul' Times
The Banks of the Roses
The Black Velvet Band
The Showman's Fancy/The Swallow's Tail
Lord of the Dance
McAlpine's Fusiliers
Raglan Road
The Old House/The High Reel
Seven Drunken Nights
Don't Give Up 'Til It's Over
The Town I Loved So Well
South Australia
Whiskey in the Jar
Hornpipe Medley
Dicey Reilly
Cill Chais
Rosin De Beau
The Fields of Athenry
Marino Casino/Reels and Jigs
Dirty Old Town
The Wild Rover
The Irish Rover
Molly Malone

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The concert portion of this two-disc set is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Lighting is very simple, so there isn't any concern over red or blue smearing, just seven men standing on a stage with a black backdrop. Image detail is above par in most spots, revealing small things like minor shirt wrinkles or fingerprints on Barney McKenna's mandolin with clarity. Some shimmer and ringing, however, on things like fretboards does occur occasionally.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Audio choices are available in either Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo. There isn't any percussion to really put the bottom end through any tests during their acoustic set, and there isn't much a difference in the clarity of the lyrics on either tracks. Point is, you won't lose much in translation with the stereo mix, but there is a more noticeable "live" feel to the 5.1 presentation, with the polite audience applause filling out the rear channels.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 27 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 27 cues and remote access
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Disc 1 houses the only extra, a full history of the band by the members, entitled Talking with the Dubs (43m:44s). The doc is split into nine chapters—with titles like In the Beginning, New Dubs on the Block, Fame and All Its Glory—chronicling the sometimes tumultuous history of the Dubliners and how, in the words of Ronnie Drew, the band formed by accident.

Disc 1 is cut into 12 chapters, and Disc 2 contains 15 breaks.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

If traditional Irish folk music is your bag, it doesn't come much more authentic than the Dubliners. This two-disc 40 year reunion show more than defines the term "old school."


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