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Over aggressive camera work prevents this from being a 5-star release, but it's close. CD suffers from loudness wars.
on November 20, 2012
Coldplay's first new live release since the Sidney, Australia, 2003 DVD is a welcome one, albeit a completely different type of live release. Where "Live 2003" was the entire night of an Australian show on the Rush of Blood to the Head tour, "Coldplay Live 2012" was shot at several venues and incorporates elements of a film/documentary instead, with five insightful interviews with the band members dotted throughout the "set list" as "intermissions".
High marks for the Blu-ray, which was released in scope format and will have black bars at the top and bottom of your screen even if you're watching on a 16:9 widescreen HDTV. This IS normal, no need to try and adjust your set. Coldplay released this in the cinemas for a short engagement and that is likely the reason behind the aspect ratio choice, although I would have welcomed it being released re-cut to 16:9 for home video release given that it is a concert film and no real loss would have occurred unlike what can happen with movies or TV shows. The cover incorrectly lists the aspect ratio as 16:9, but it is actually 2.39:1. Picture quality was stable throughout and it wasn't until the credits that I noticed a strange anomaly with some blurring. Luckily it's redundant as you don't really care about this part of the Blu-ray. The entire program looks good outside of this. Some Alexa cameras were used in the Stade footage which looks particularly clean, there is obviously a mix of different cameras used which means you'll see some grain here and there from the ones being shot on film. Thankfully EMI chose not to scrub this out with over-zealous digital noise reduction which would have further reduced the high frequency detail Blu-ray is capable of resolving.
The 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio track throughout is very capable, fidelity is great and the sound of a live venue is accurately captured through the ambience of the rear speakers. The running time of a Coldplay show is likely a little longer given that they usually take the stage at 9pm and play until 11pm. It's a shame they couldn't include a full evening's worth of songs on here as a special "director's cut". For example, looking up the setlist for the Montreal show featured in the program shows that 21 songs were played that night. With the dual layer 50GB Blu-ray they used for this release they could have easily fit more songs on to give a full tour, or included the ones they didn't want to use in the film as extras. There are only two extra songs included in the "Extras" section, where are the rest of the songs they played on this tour? It was in the extras watching "The Scientist" (note the extra two songs don't offer 5.1 surround options) that I noticed some pixelation during the lighting which is quite busy. Perhaps they could have used some additional passes in the encoding?
My favorite of the new Coldplay tracks from Mylo Xyloto is here, Major Minus. This song reminds me most of Coldplay around the Rush of Blood days, with a little influence from "The Verve". Coldplay are on good form here, every song is exciting to listen to but what really pushed this release to the 4-star mark for me, overcoming the lack of sheer concert footage included, were the excellent intermissions giving a candid look at the band on the road. The 1st intermission was my favorite, with Martin describing what it's like just before you go on stage and what gets him motivated and excited for every single performance. The other intermissions are also well worth watching of course, as usually you only get to hear Chris Martin predominantly in Coldplay interviews. Here each member gets their own intermission segment before a final one again with Martin. I really enjoyed hearing Guy talk as he's the one you usually hear the least from. The wristband segment was really fun to watch and looks amazing on this Blu-ray. One of the biggest flaws of this is how busy the camera shots can be during certain songs. You want to pay attention to what's going on but the director decides you need to "feel" the busy parts of the song by going to quick scene shots. When you're at the concert, do you start darting your eyes from left to right about the stage, panning around to quickly look at the audience, back to Guy, quickly to Will, Chris, back to audience? If not then why would people include this as a style? It's bad enough in the movies, it should be intolerable in a concert release. Coldplay are not The Prodigy. Fortunately there are songs in here that don't suffer as badly. I though God Put A Smile was one of the worst. Also, you can shut the picture off and just enjoy the 24-bit/48kHz dts-HD Master Audio surround mix with your eyes closed, luckily they don't pan the surround mix like they do the picture, as you would in a movie. Wouldn't that make you vomit?
The CD's unfortunately don't fare well with audio quality like the Blu-ray did. The Blu-ray is thankfully free of egregious dynamic range compression, otherwise known as the "loudness wars". You can enjoy this dynamic performance in your home theater and turn it up. The CD's are already cranked and the dynamic range has been strongly reduced. If you can find a way to extract the 24-bit PCM stereo track from the Blu-ray and dither it to 16-bits and 44.1kHz sampling rate and burn that to CD it will sound much better than the included CD. Still, you're buying this for the Blu-ray and thus it's still a 4-star release.
This is a good Blu-ray release, good set list, great performance and has above average audio and video. I'd recommend it to new and old fans of the band.