MIKE & THE MECHANICS VIDEO REVIEWS

VIDEO RATING SYSTEM

*****

An excellent video. Strong effort from beginning to end! A must own!

****

A very good video. A few low points but, overall, a decent effort. Recommended. 

***

A good video. Several weak points detract from the release, but it's still worth owning.

**

A mediocre video. Unless you're a real fan, you might not like this release very much.

*

A poor video. Stay away from this one unless you are a hardcore fan!
   
Mike & The Mechanics + Paul Carrack - Live At Shepherds Bush London  DVD (2005)

WOG RATING: ***

Released in March 2005, Live At Shepherds Bush London has the distinction of being the first Mechanics concert on the DVD format. The 2004 Rewired Tour marked a turning point for the Mechanics, because it was the first tour without the late Paul Young who passed away in July 2000. Frankly, as of the time of this DVD release, since the band has not released any of their last few albums in North America or toured here, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it would be available in NTSC format at all. It actually marks the first Mechanics release in North America since Beggar On A Beach of Gold in February 1995, a decade earlier! So, special thanks to the team at Eagle Vision for remembering the fans on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean!

Here are my thoughts on this product:
VIDEO:

The video quality is very good, although the camera work itself is dodgy at times with some shots momentarily out of focus. There are even a few moments where the camera person quickly zooms in, similar to what a amateur person would do with a home video camera! Aside from these brief moments, the picture quality itself is excellent. The images are sharp and the coloring is superb! The stage lights, musicians and audience appear in rich accurate tones. The video quality of the extras was not up to par in all cases, but that will be discussed below. 

The menus are animated and, while they are a little basic looking, they are easy to use. The video is presented in 16:9 screen configuration and has a total running time of approximately 127 minutes. The NTSC pressing will work in regions 1 or 4. 

AUDIO:

The audio for the concert portion of the DVD is available in Dolby digital stereo, 5.1 Dolby surround sound, or in 5.1 DTS surround sound. I was really pleased with both the stereo and surround mixes. The audio on this disc is outstanding. Then again, this is a new recording, so that may not be that surprising to the listener/viewer. I was a little disappointed on the audio for the extras, but that will be discussed below.

EXTRAS:

Seven Promotional Music Videos:
The original promotional music videos for seven songs: "Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)", "The Living Years", "Word of Mouth", "Over My Shoulder", "A Beggar On A Beach of Gold", "Another Cup of Coffee" and "One Left Standing" were included, which is a great added feature. Unfortunately, the video quality on some of these songs is a little grainy and surprisingly poor quality. By watching, I am guessing that no one bothered to clean these masters up and digitally remaster them for DVD. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful to have them on DVD at all but, considering the quality and effort put into the concert portion of the DVD, this seemingly obvious neglect was a little disappointing. The audio is also only available in stereo for the music video extras - not surround sound. Again, leading me to believe that little effort was put into the preparation of the music videos for this package. Hopefully, at some point, a quality music video anthology will follow for the band with the same level of care that was put into the Genesis
Video Show DVD, which is complete with restored quality video and 5.1 surround sound mixes of the songs included.

Interview with Mike Rutherford and Paul Carrack
Included as a bonus is a new interview with Mike and Paul in almost a documentary style presentation of the Rewired album and tour. The comments were interesting and insightful. I thought this was a fantastic extra and far more interesting that a running commentary track over the concert footage could ever have been (anyone who has sat through the commentary track on
The Way We Walk DVD by Genesis will understand what I mean). The documentary also includes some behind the scenes footage including a scene where the band is rehearsing "I Don't Want It All" which is not performed live on the DVD (Doh! The tease of it all...).

PERFORMANCE:

I have seen the Mechanics many times in concert over the years, and they have always put on a great show. The last opportunity I had to see the band live was in May 1999 with Paul Young, and it was an experience I am often grateful to have had the pleasure to see one last time. That being said, the quality of this performance on DVD is excellent, but visually it gets a little boring to watch after a while. Carrack does a great job on "Beggar On A Beach of Gold" (a former Young sung tune), but "Word of Mouth" (another Young sung tune) which is not purely sung by Carrack on the DVD, came off with far less success. The modernized sound of Rewired also does not come across on this DVD. Perhaps at the actual concert it was more noticeable, but the sampling and keyboards are fairly quiet in the audio mix. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it gave the performance more of a guitar emphasis rather than the heavy keyboard emphasis you are accustomed to hearing on some of the older Mechanics material. Of course, all of the classic Carrack sung tracks like "The Living Years" and "Silent Running" are perfectly carried out and thankfully documented on this release. 

The band was supported by two back-up singers who sung fine, but stood there looking a little limp and awkward during most of the show. All in all, the performance sounded great, but lacked energy. I found this strange since Carrack's solo DVDs have been very enjoyable to watch, but for whatever reason, the Mechanics come off looking very stiff on this video. The late Paul Young's energy and knack for rousing an audience certainly would have benefited the show.

MY CONCLUSION:

The audio on this concert is great for the most part. I would recommend it on that alone. The performance, visually speaking, was a bit dry and uninteresting after a while. Even as a fan, I found myself tuning out of the picture and doing other things, which is not like me at all. The extras were a welcomed addition, but in some cases were not completely up to par. Over all, I would give the product a good review, but not an excellent one. Fans of the band will enjoy the quality of the show and the added features, but casual listeners may find the concert far less appealing to sit there and watch. 

To purchase the Region 1 (and 4) NTSC DVD (playable in North America) click here.
      

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