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Running Time: 118 minutes
Starring: The Flaming Lips, Have Love Will Travel, The Isley Brothers, Justin Timberlake, The Guess Who, Rush, Rush, AC/DC, Rolling Stones
Directed by: Marty Callner
Studio: Rhino Home Video
Retail Price: $19.99
Features: The Photo, Justin Timberlake Meets The Rolling Stones, AC/DC Rockin' With The Stones, Director's Chair, Getting The Party Started
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, Linear PCM Stereo, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Japanese Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Portuguese Subtitles, Songs (21 Songs)
Released: June 29th, 2004
After negative publicity due to the SARS outbreak, tourism in Toronto was seriously affected. Canadian officials wanted to let people know that their fair city was safe, and to boost tourism back up yet again they did quite a few things and held a few events. One such event was the Toronto Rocks concert, held in the city on July 30, 2003. The concert was a big success, drawing nearly half a million people. Of course, quite a bit of the money raised at the concert went to help fight SARS.
This highly-publicized and monumentous concert was filmed and is now available on DVD. Do take note though: this is not the entire concert. While I don't know the entire set list of the concert (as to say if this is supposed to be a "best of" of the concert), I find that disappointing and I'm sure a lot of music fans and those who missed the concert will be disappointed by this news too. Also absent from the concert is one of Justin Timberlake's performances which received quite a bit of attention from the news media all around. Why you ask? Well, some concert-goers began to assult Mr. Timberlake with some garbage during his performance - and he did a pretty good job of avoiding it.
So what is included? Well, the concert starts off with an edited introduction explaining the reasons for it, the usual time-lapse set-up, screaming fans, etc. And then you get the performances: The Flaming Lips ("Do You Realize?" and "Race For The Prize"), "Have Love Will Travel" ("Skybox Ballroom Pump," "Dig Myself A Hole," "Time Won't Let Me"), The Isley Brothers ("Who's That Lady," "Shout"), Justin Timberlake ("Senorita"), The Guess Who ("American Woman," "No Time"), Rush ("Limelight," "Freewill," "Spirit Of Radio"), AC/DC ("Back In Black," "Thunderstruck") and of course, Rolling Stones ("Start Me Up," "Ruby Tuesday," "Miss You" with Justin Timberlake, "Rock Me Baby" with AC/DC, "Satisfaction" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash"). Also, there are some performances with the emcees, comics Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi.
In all, this is a pretty solid set of performances from some great acts - old and new (including Canada's own Rush). I think some of these acts are more natural performers than some of the others (well, at least in front of a massive audience), but the artists assembled for the concert do have talent (and are mainly beloved), and for serious music fans, there's at least one act here they can at least cherish and love. A lot of the big hits are played which is certainly a plus, and for two hours of your life, this certainly makes for some great and entertaining live performances overall. So if you weren't there or have any interest in these acts, then you certainly won't want to pass up the Toronto Rocks concert on DVD.
The image quality is a pretty mixed bag, and overall it isn't too amazing. The concert footage is mainly filmed, and the transfer suffers from some grain but mainly incredibly high contrast which results in a ton of noise and some shimmering. It's pretty distracting, and the image quality itself doesn't look that sharp. Detail isn't too amazing and there are some artifacts, but the colors look fine and have decent saturation and the fleshtones look great and natural overall. While you are viewing the acts themselves, I guess it's the music that counts, right?
Thankfully, the audio doesn't slouch at all and everyone who gives a listen will be pleased here - the uncompressed Linear PCM Stereo track and Dolby Digital 5.1 track are both pretty fabulous. Both have incredibly high fidelity and robust imaging, and more importantly each track gets the spirit of the concert. The cheering fans add the energy, and when the musicians speak it's easy to hear them - their words sound clear. But the music packs all the punch, and it almost feels like you're on stage with these musical artists. The vocals on the songs are very crisp, and the musical elements are cleary identified and really come together quite well - drums, guitars, keyboards - you can really pinpoint the instruments on the songs and feel the varying musical flavors. As far as the superior track, it's a tough call, but I found the Linear PCM to be a bit more fuller. The DVD also has a bevy of subtitles but for the extra features only: English, French, Japanese, Spanish and Portuguese. Enjoy the music!
Yep, there are extras on this thing. The Photo is a four minute piece where some of the artists talk about the experience of performing at the concert briefly, then meeting and then the big group photo of them all. Justin Timberlake Meets The Rolling Stones focuses on the singer's experience working with the group and his initial meeting with them, all with a voice-over and some rehearsal footage. We hear from Keith Richards and Mick Jagger too, plus there's a bit on the trash throwing. This lasts about five minutes.
AC/DC Rockin' With The Stones lasts a little over three minutes, and has each of the two bands talking about the other band's styles and working together - pretty fascinating stuff, complete with some previous concert footage. Director's Chair lasts about six minutes and gives you the audio from director Marty Callner directing the camera action. It's a bit repetitive, but that's the director's job - and Callner has some problems with his own audio. Finally Get The Party Started lasts a little over fine minutes and highlights some of the opening acts of the concert. It still would have been nice to have the entire concert.
Also included are credits and inside the DVD case is a nice booklet, with some great photos of the event, some text about the day and a complete song listing and small guide to the DVD. Pretty sweet.
Even if this is not the concert in its entirety, it's still a worthy concert disc to check out - and in my opinion, anchored by the fabulous Rolling Stones playing some of their greatest. The DVD image quality isn't great, but the sound quality is and there are some decent extras included. With a pretty good retail price to boot, fans of the bands included at the concert will definitely want to look into this DVD.