U2 Vertigo 2005 - Live From Chicago


One week prior to the official release of the new U2 DVD 'U2 Vertigo 2005 - Live From Chicago' (Popup LinkCover) we've managed to get our hands onto a few copies. Having premiered already at U2 Night 2005 in Vienna, we took some extra time off to write a first review about the DVD. You can find all in general infos (tracklist etc.) of the DVD in our DVD-Special.

The Packaging

The standard DVD version comes with a "super jewel box", which is similar to a CD jewel case but in DVD format. The "Deluxe Edition" comes with the usual digipack cover which we are familiar with from the Boston and Slane Castle DVD. The booklet is connected to the sleeve and the 2 DVDs are stored on the right side.

The booklet contains 14 pages and is provided with live pictures of the band. The first two pages cover all Vertigo tour logos like a wallpaper: From the red "V" up to the atomic bomb which we all know from the merchandising items of the tour, it's all there. Page by page you will find words which, when put together, contain the message: "Don't become a monster in order to defeat a monster". The style of the booklet (with hand-drawn circles) and the cover paintings are similar to the "Deluxe Edition" of 'How to dismantle an atomic bomb'. Unfortunately the booklet does not live up to expectations and is scanty, containing 5 pictures and 10 words as well as some credits. We are curious to see whether the "Deluxe Edition" booklet provides the same. If so, that would be very disappointing.

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The Content

The DVD is a mix of the Chicago concerts (dating 9th and 10th of May) from the Vertigo tour. The footage used comes primarily from the 10th of May (Bono's birthday), though there are some exceptions. The setlists of those two nights are almost identical with only the final song being different ('40' on the 9th and 'Vertigo' on the 10th; '40' was used for the DVD). The recording is almost complete with only 'Party Girl' missing on the DVD, which was played on both nights. The concert starts off with a very short 'Wake up' from Arcade Fire and segues into 'Everyone', which was used as the 1st leg intro.

On the bright side the DVD doesn't contain any copyright statements so you are able to start right away with the concert when putting it in a DVD player. Needless to say the DVD menu contains options for sound settings as well as a track selection. The duration of the DVD is 2 hours 19 minutes, which is unusually long for U2 standards. Below you will find some screenshots of the menus.

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The Concert

U2 are playing in one of their favorite towns and you can tell. The four boys from Ireland seem very relaxed and are on fire performance wise. Especially Bono is full of energy, something one or the other might have missed during the EU concerts. There's no doubt that the B-Man pulls off a great show on his birthday, interacting and joking often with the crowd. Adam is full of smiles (no suprises there) but even Larry is caught with a smirk here and there. The crowd seems to be into this one as well: Driven by the birthday boy the fans pull off a far better performance than one might be used to from the American crowd.

The concert seems unedited: Bono's (long) speeches are included, as are most of the snippets ('Wake up', 'Bullet with butterfly wings', 'No regrets', and 'When Johnny comes marching home')! Only downer: There's no 'Blackbird' at the end of 'Beautiful day' and 'I can see for miles' during 'The Electric Co.'. Both weren't snippeted on the 10th, which is probably the reason they're missing on the DVD. No doubt that U2's own songs are on this one though: 'Stories for boys', 'Cry' and the small 'Please' snippet from 'Bullet the blue sky' are all included.

Something that is far more noticeable than on previous U2 live-recordings is that flaws from the band aren't edited out (Choosing to film both nights was not for nothing). Therefore you'll hear Edge making mistakes at times ('Miracle Drug' solo, start of '40', and 'Mysterious Ways' solo) and Bono mixing up some lyrics ('Love and Peace or Else' and 'Yahweh'), which makes the whole thing more likable and authentic. That's probably what the people in charge were thinking and, for instance, decided to go with an 'Elevation' version on the DVD where Bono is clearly struggling with a "frog in the throat". All in all the right decision not to make the convulsive attempt to make a perfect live recording (e.g. Popmart, where some flaws where edited). Mistakes are part of it - keep it that way.

The Picture

Short summary: It is a typical Hamish Hamilton production. Whether that's a good or a bad thing is naturally a matter of opinion. Once again there are many fast cuts mixed with lots of spontaneous zooming in. Hamilton also suprises with some new camera angles, e.g. one camera which provides a bird's eye view over the main stage. This produces some nice close-ups on Edge's equipment and foot pedals. Larry (more precisely: Larry's cymbals) also gets lots of attention from the camera while shots of the whole main stage remain a rarity. People who didn't like the Boston DVD because of its stage-direction aren't gonna be great fans of this one neither, there are plenty of (often blurry) close-ups of hands, guitars and the drums. Some of the shots were made on same height as the GA fans, which leads to many waving hands (including countless mobile telephones) being shown in the foreground. Some (light)-effects, which should add a certain creativity to the shooting, are rather disturbing at some points.

Besides all this it has to be said that the recording seems far more lively this time compared to Hamiltons Boston production.

Some dodgy cuts are again subject to criticism:
- There is almost no pause between 'Vertigo' and 'Elevation', with only 2 seconds elapsing between those tracks. You see Edge changing his guitar in one scene while the intro-riff is already starting; next thing you know Edge is standing in front of the microphone.
- During 'Elevation' you see (at least once clearly!) that picture and sound don't match! Min:sec 13:52 - 13:54 - You hear Bono singing the 'Elevation' intro, but not so in the cut.

The video format is 16:9.

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The Sound

The DVD is again released in 3 different sound formats: PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. A detailled report to the sound quality will be available very soon.

The Extras

The bonus disc features a "Beyond the tour" documentary, recorded on the 10th of May. The disc shows fans who have been quequeing for almost 2 days in front of the United Center, as well as the build-up of the whole stage. Many familiar faces are shown in the documentary, Paul McGuiness, Dallas Schoo, Gavin Friday, Hamish Hamilton and many many fans just being some of them. The footage is 31 minutes long and shows the daily routines of the crew and the band from different perspectives. The documentary is in english and contains subtitles for english, french, spanish, german and portuguese language. The video format is 4:3 and the sound only available in stereo.

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Another addition to the DVD is the surveillance video, shot from stage designer Willie Williams. The band is monitored by infrared cameras on stage; it is brought to attention that the crowd has not been told that they are being taped. The footage contains songs like 'Love and Peace or Else', "An Cat Dubh', 'The Electric Co.' and 'Running to Stand Still' and is displayed in a paltry grey tone, shot from angles that were not used for the main DVD. The running time of this extra is 21 minutes.

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Contrary to first reports that the DVD would contain 'All because of you' and Miracle Drug' (from the BBC session at Hanover Quay Studios, 16th November '04), it only includes an alternative version of 'Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own' (produced by Phil Joanou). The so-called "Single-Take-Video" was recorded in Dublin on Sheriff Street, December 15th 2004. Trainspotters will be familiar to this from the original video, which showed Bono walking down the street. Remarkably, unlike the original video (where Bono's voice faded out in the beginning to match the Album recording) you hear Bono singing throughout the entire clip.


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Further, the DVD contains 2 screensavers as well as a (hidden) 3-minute long clip titled "Behind The Scenes", which is a small documentary about the layout and implementation of the Vertigo-Tour stage.

Altogether it is very questionable if the "Deluxe Edition" is worth the high price: While hardcore fans might not care about the price difference to the standard DVD, people who just want to see the Vertigo Tour concert are better off just buying the normal version as the "Extras" are simply not worth it. The documentary doesn't contain anything special, the surveillance videos are not something you want to watch over and over again, and except that there is only one video left and 2 screensavers. The bonus disc is pretty disappointing: Considering they've used only half of the DVD's capacity, one can only wonder why they didn't put on more videos or show more clips from the other Chicago shows (which didn't make the cut for the DVD). The small "Easter Egg" doesn't make up for this rather unfruitful piece of art ...

Technical Infos

The concert on the DVD has an exact lenght of 2h 18mins und 30 seconds. Die Filesize for the video is 4701MB, Stereosound takes 1573MB (1536 kbps) of space, DolbyDigital 5.1 456 MB (448kbps) and der DTS-Sound about 770MB. The maximum size of the DVD is not used which is a little disappointing because we can not expect any specials on DVD 1 of the double-DVD set. The datarates of video are in calm passages between 3 and 5 MBit/s, in songs with more action up to 7 MBit/s. The picture is technically very good, digital artefacts are barely visible. On the single DVD-set are no Easter-Eggs.

Screenshots

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