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  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
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  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
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  • Documentaries - A Stirling Performance
R.E.M. - Perfect Square
Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 105 mins . E . PAL


Itís practically impossible to define a band like R.E.M., so I wonít even bother. Describing their music is about the same level of impossibility so all Iíll say is that I believe R.E.M.ís music speaks to everyone on a different level. They have the ability to deliver emotive ballads far beyond the average as well as kickarse rock tunes. They also manage to pour forth almost medieval dances in their music and strange urban, thoroughly modern, dreamscapes. If ever there has been a band of such popularity and dynamic range, R.E.M. are certainly equals to them.

The unmistakable Michael Stipe leads the (now) three-piece group in a huge variety of both their recent and older songs here in a single performance in Weisbaden, Germany on July 19, 2003. Starting in daylight and progressing into night the music feels the same way, starting in traditional rock music opener fashion before settling into the evening with some more well-known tracks. Finally, ending the evening with a rarely performed track followed by the collision of galaxies that is Itís The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).

The track listing is a vital and well chosen range covering their entire playlist, and features stuff from their earliest days right through to their later works. Brilliantly and beautifully shot, the film is an extraordinary show in that it has been grabbed from one single performance, rather than a Ďbest bitsí of, say, three consecutive shows as many are. But what else would we expect from such a dynamic and excellent group? There are, granted, edits of moments unnecessary to the overall performance and this thankfully keeps the pace rolling right along until we get to the end of this 105 minute film. There is no major farting around setting the scene to begin with, nor are there protracted moments in the end. We start soon after the film begins (with the apt and no doubt deliberate Begin the Begin) and end right after the last song (Iím not writing that title out again). Itís a fabulous show and fans of the band will be more than satisfied with the exceptional presentation of the disc and the comprehensive playlist. This I will relay now with my highlights in bold type:

  • Begin the Begin
  • Whatís the Frequency, Kenneth?
  • Maps and Legends
  • Drive
  • Animal
  • Daysleeper
  • The Great Beyond
  • Bad Day
  • The One I Love
  • All the Way to Reno
  • Orange Crush
  • Losing My Religion
  • At My Most Beautiful
  • Electrolite
  • She Just Wants to Be
  • Walk Unafraid
  • Man on the Moon
  • Everybody Hurts
  • So Fast, So Numb
  • Country Feedback
  • Permanent Vacation
  • Imitation of Life
  • Itís The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Apologies for the great amount of highlights there, but it was hard enough to choose them ahead of the others. Itís all so good.


The picture quality here is simply perfect (haha). Bright rich colours, crystal clear lines and a razor sharp picture bring this to the screen in delicious 1.78:1 with 16:9 enhancement. A huge collection of cameras track and cover the action and have been well utilised to capture the most intense moments of any moment, albeit on stage or in the crowd. There is really nothing to fault this picture delivery in the slightest. Even the falling night and fully dark picture are great in this (thankfully) PAL transfer. An easy perfect ten.

Aurally thereís also nothing to fault this DVD. Granted us in the choices of DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby Digital stereo, thereís something for everyone. The surrounds get a great workout throughout and, of course, the subwoofer stays busy Ė but not always. Slower songs or songs with less deep instruments still get support but nothing major. Walk Unafraid is a good example with just Michael Stipeís voice doing much of the work.

Thereís also a practically unprecedented seven varieties of subtitles for the times between songs (not that thereís a lot of talking going on) though songs themselves arenít subtitled. Itís another easy perfect ten.

Thereís also a fantastic documentary included entitled A Stirling Performance that covers the week leading up to and including three shows at Stirling Castle in Scotland in 1999. This is a small town and itís a great doco dissecting the logistics of playing a small town when youíre such a big band. (Personally I can relate to this when several years ago I lived north of Cairns and The Cranberries were going to play this usually ignored and fairly unpopulated city. The big jerks pulled out in the end though, citing a sprained ankle, I think. Thatís so weak.) Anyway, this doco is great, running for 38:38 in 4:3 and nicely filling out this DVD 9 (dual layered, single sided). Also, the animated menus deserve a mention here. They are spectacularly clean and well animated and just as vivid as the show itself in their crystalline clarity.

Overall, if youíre an R.E.M. fan, you should already have this. If you donít, get your arse up from the computer and get it now. For anyone who isnít a fan or doesnít know much of the group, this show is so good and so creatively covers a wide variety of the bandís styles, it is a fabulous introduction. Iím at a loss for words to praise this DVD highly enough. Itís one of the best concert DVDs Iíve ever seen, if not the best, and I canít call to mind one as visually or aurally perfect.

Yes, you must have this. There is little question.

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  •   And I quote...
    "Concert DVD of the year? Itís got my vote."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-T29S32S 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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