Sunday, September 23, 2007

U2's PopMart Live from Mexico City - now on DVD!

I've been a fan of U2 since their earliest days. Sunday Bloody Sunday, I Will Follow, Two Hearts Beat as One were all favorites of mine during the 80s. Even before their breakout performance of the stunningly beautiful Bad at the 1985 Live-Aid concert, I've been in love with Bono's soaring vocals, The Edge's blistering lead guitar and the pulsing backbeat of Adam Clayton's bass and Larry Mullen Jr.'s drums. The passion of their music and lyrics as exemplified in their tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Pride (In the Name of Love) has attracted legions of fans over the years--and I am definitely one of them.

So it was with great pleasure that I was able to review this new DVD version of their 1997 Mexico City performance of the PopMart concert tour. Set against a back drop of a 100 ft cocktail stick skewering a giant olive, a golden arch and giant golden lemon mirrorball with Andy Warhol-esque and Roy Lichtenstein imagery flashing in technicolor on what looks like an oversized Lite-Brite (in actuality--a 170 ft by 56 ft LED screen comprising 150,000 pixels), the concert consists of over two hours of an eclectic and electric mix of U2 classics--old and new.

But take away the gaudy glitter and flash and dazzle and you're left with the music. And even without the fabulous light show and pyrotechnics, the music and the performance definitely stands on its own. Sure, there are times that Bono's voice is restrained--almost just a breathy whisper. But then he unleashes his familiar primal scream and all is right in the world. The Edge, so often eclipsed by the showmanship of the band's ubiquitous front man, gets his due during this show--giving a soulful stripped-down solo rendition of the classic Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Originally filmed on analogue video, the film has been transferred to a digital format with re-graded and cleaned pictures. Great care was been taken to maintain the original look by simply enhancing it, with an added degree of sharpness and contrast unavailable when originally filmed. The audio has also been re-mastered and mixed in 5.1 Surround Sound. The DVD is both visually and aurally stunning--even on my dinky TV. It would be a simply AMAZING experience on a wide-screen home theater system.

You can check out the trailer for the DVD here and purchase it here. U2's PopMart Live from Mexico City is available in two formats: a Standard 1-disc format containing the concert, and a Special Limited Edition 2-disc format, the 2nd bonus disc containing previously unreleased live audio and video material, including documentaries, a PopMart tour visuals montage, and DVD-ROM extras. If you're a fan of U2, I highly recommend adding either to your collection.

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