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review added: 12/7/01



The Psychedelic Furs
Live from House of Blues

2001 (2001) - Pioneer Artists

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

The Psychedelic Furs: Live from House of Blues

Program Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): A/A

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): A+/A-

Specs and Features

80 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.78:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:00:21, at the start of track 14), keep case packaging, audio commentary with Psychedelic Furs lead singer Richard Butler (for the songs Love My Way, Pretty in Pink, Wrong Train and Sister Europe), Psychedelic Furs: Beautiful Chaos featurette, bonus acoustic performances (of Love My Way, Wrong Train and Cigarette), trivia game, animated program-themed menu screens with music, song access (17 songs see set list below), languages: English (DD 5.1 & DTS 5.0), subtitles: none

The UK new wave band Psychedelic Furs became a staple of pop radio in the '80s, with such songs as Pretty in Pink and Love My Way. Today, they continue to be a staple of radio airplay - on the recent glut of new stations devoted to '80s pop/rock music (these particular dial settings are destined to become the "oldies" stations for us Gen-Xers). However, during their recent reunion concert, captured on video and presented by Pioneer on their new DVD The Psychedelic Furs: Live from House of Blues, what we're given is the same old Furs we knew and loved in the skinny-tie, big-hair '80s, but now a bit more guitar driven than they were in the past. While the classic Furs songs still contain a nice dose of electronica, the band's punk roots show here a bit more prominently than in their heyday, as this performance contains much more distortion-heavy guitar work than what I remember. It's not better, it's not worse - it's just different.

My biggest issue about this performance is that lead singer Richard Butler is alternately either rockin' as well as he did 15+ years ago (which is, thankfully, what he does through much of the concert) or embarrassingly off key, and even off tempo. When he IS in the zone, the concert is a very welcomed trip down memory lane. But otherwise… well, it's not very pleasant. Also, the experience as a whole isn't terribly exciting. The stage is beautifully decorated with floods of psychedelic lighting (pun intended), but the band seems to not be into it very much. Butler performs with passion, but otherwise the rest of the band plays out the concert a bit robotically.

The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen video on this disc is smooth, clean and shows off a nice amount of fine detail during close-up shots. The vivid colors of the stage lighting pour onto the screen with bold representation, while noticeable amounts of effects smoke never send the image into bouts of compression artifacting.

Boldly recreating the excitement and immediacy of the "live" experience, the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio blazes forth with rich, full-bodied guitar sweetness and pounding kick drums. The front soundstage imaging is spacious, in essence providing the home viewer the best seat in the house. Rear channels are used to reinforce the action up front with natural venue ambiance for the music, along with audience applause and cheering. The alternate DTS 5.0 audio is also good, exhibiting many of the same qualities as the Dolby version. But in comparison, the DTS track is more subdued and lacks the extra helpings of oomph and excitement provided by the Dolby track. Go figure.

Pioneer has provided a nice set of extras that make this disc a must-buy for all you Furs fans out there. For starters, Richard Butler contributes running commentary to four of the songs on the disc (Love My Way, Pretty in Pink, Wrong Train and Sister Europe), in which he discusses the origins of each track. A 14-minute featurette called Psychedelic Furs: Beautiful Chaos contains interviews with the band members as they discuss the band's history, influences, the genesis of their name, early performances and other interesting topics. A trio of acoustic performances (Love My Way, Wrong Train and Cigarette) is also featured on the disc, presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.0 (with similar aural results as the main concert). I actually found it to be more appealing than the main show (the song Cigarette is absolutely beautiful). Finally, a trivia game will test your knowledge of Furs history to see if you're truly a hard-core fan.

The Psychedelic Furs: Live from House of Blues isn't the best DVD concert experience I've ever had, but it's by far not the worst. The Furs are still rocking well into the 21st century, so if you're a fan, you'll want to make sure you're there to see for yourself. Plus, the Dolby Digital audio kicks six shades of ass, and the totally radical extras are a treat for all of you out there who remember a time when The Max Headroom Show was new and John Hughes was still making good films. I so miss the '80s…

Greg Suarez
gregsuarez@thedigitalbits.com

Set List

Intro
India
Mr. Jones
Heaven
No Easy Street
Ghost in You
Alive
Love My Way
Wrong Train
Heartbreak Beat
Sister Europe
Anodyne (Better Days)
Only You & I (Angels)
Into You Like a Train
Pretty in Pink
Dumb Waiters




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