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The Film
A band that really seem to have stood the test of time, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers released their eighth album By The Way in 2002 to a mixed response which escalated into awe. The previous album, Californication, was adored by fans and critics alike and following it up would be a hard act to follow. So when the slower paced By the Way was released people were a little shocked, however they soon came to terms with the band maturing and producing a different sound.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Live at Slane Castle

On the 23rd August 2003 the band played to over 80,000 people at the famous Slane Castle and Warner were there to record the event. Released on DVD to coincide with the bands Greatest Hits CD release, this DVD features eighteen tracks from all over their back catalogue. Not being a massive fan of the band, it is good to be able to see a concert such as this as it is pretty much a greatest hits, live. Live music always has something special attached to it for me. If they can’t get it right the first time, then there is no chance to go and try it again, and that is where the real bands show through. RHCP are excellent live. This is a great gig.

Nothing special to look at really – just the band on stage with some bouncing around, flashing lights and crowd shots. However the performance is just fantastic. There are a lot of camera changes for different angles and members of the band as well as a camera mounted at the front of the stage which occasionally shoots across the stage so fast, it seems that they are actually in the Matrix (it is either a fast camera or lots of single cameras as in the Matrix anyway). It’s a nice effect and is not overused in the production. The skill in bounding around whilst playing guitar to this level is something special. The band clearly enjoy live shows and in the music, this shows. Approaching this disc with a little trepidation, I can honestly say that I found I enjoyed almost all the tracks which is saying something.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Live at Slane Castle

Tracklist

1. By The Way
2. Scar Tissue
3. Around The World
4. Universally Speaking
5. Parallel Universe
6. Zephyr Song
7. Throw Away Your Television
8. Havana Affair
9. Otherside
10. Purple Stain
11. Don't Forget Me
12. Right On Time
13. Can't Stop
14. Venice Queen
15. Give It Away
16. Californication
17. Under The Bridge
18. Power Of Equality

The show ends at Give it Away and the band go off stage, and predictably return to rapturous applause and screaming for the last three tracks (following a drum solo/trumpet performance), two of which are some of my favourite RHCP tracks ever. The total run time is an impressive 102 minutes and closes to Redemption Song and a fireworks display – lovely. Fortunately, if any of them are wearing socks anywhere other than on their feet, you don’t get to see.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Live at Slane Castle

Video
The concert is presented in (anamorphic) 1.85:1 and looks great. Colours are vibrant in the daylight during the first few songs, and the black levels are rich and unfaltering during the rest of the concert filmed at night. The flesh tones are excellent on this dirt free print. Grain levels are low but not non-existent and colours on screen are only enhanced at night, when the light show becomes more predominant and spectacular. Possibly the best video presentation of a concert I have ever seen on DVD.

Audio
The DVD is presented with three sound tracks. The first is a standard Dolby Digital 2.0 mix (256Kbps). This track is surprisingly good which is no doubt something to do with its high rate encoding. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is good but due to the inclusion of a centre speaker, sounds slightly muffled as the surround field is filled with the vocals and music however it does feel brighter than the vanilla 2.0 mix with its inclusion of the rear speakers. The rear speakers are really just for crowd sound with some light surround effects in the form of echo from the front of the stage. The DTS mix is a real disappointment. Very quiet, this mix takes the worst characteristics of the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, and then adds its own on top of that. Quiet, soft and muffled, almost as though the audio has been smoothed out, losing its rough edge. The 5.1 DD mix is certainly good enough but perhaps the purists with prefer the (at times) punchier 2.0 mix.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Live at Slane Castle

Extras
First up is an exclusive screen saver however it is just a load of flashing colours for your TV and someone doing semaphore (it does other things but they are even more boring). There is no music and it runs for nearly thirty minutes. And it loops. Next we have the option to put it to music – there are six optional tracks (Give It Away, The Zephyr Song, Right on Time, Can’t Stop, Throw Away Your Television and Parallel Universe). I guess this might be useful for some people, but you might as well just put the whole concert on since it is hardly a static image in the first place. The animated menus are all very stylised and integrate well with the theme presented – for some reason the remind me of the game Viewtiful Joe on the Nintendo GameCube. When menus get mentioned, you know that basically, there are no extra features on the disc!

Overall
This is a very impressive DVD. Great presentation and great music. With two out of three soundtracks being decent, the fact that the DTS is lack lustre is not a problem. The music is the real seller here. As a non-fan, aware of the band and with a penchant for a few of their tracks, this has been a real eye, or should I say ear, opener. I don’t know about you – but I am off to get the greatest hits CD too. If you don’t like Under the Bridge, then you had better get back to your Gareth Gates CD. Now if only they’d make a DVD-Audio disc…

This DVD is encoded for regions 2,3,4,5 and 6.


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