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Screamadelica: Live (Blu-ray Review)

Alright, it’s time for some rock ‘n roll brought to you by our friends over at Eagle Rock Entertainment.  My next three consecutive reviews (starting with this one) will be a trifecta of sorts.  In this review we will be tackling one of the most influential bands of the early 90′s: Primal Scream.  Then the lovely Sheryl Crow will grace us with her show at the Hollywood Pantages Theater.  Then Mr. David Byrne will Ride, Rise, and Roar right after.  This installment will be all about the boys in Primal Scream who played their iconic Screamadelica album in it’s entirety to a sold out crowd in London.  It would be a day filled with color, dance, rock, and emotion.  Sit back and relax while we take you to Screamadelica: Live on Blu-ray! 

Film 

I have to start this review and confess that I had not heard any of Primal Scream’s music until their mid 90′s album Give Up But Don’t Give Out hit the streets.  After that album came out the hit single Rocks went into some serious rotation along with being on Beavis and Butthead.  Who knew that that particular album would have been met with backlash from the Primal Scream community as being too “dancy” and non-Primal Scream?  That’s actually the irony, because if you know anything about Primal Scream is that they genre-benders to the extreme.

When Screamadelica: Live on Blu-ray came in for review I quickly dismissed it as rubbish, because it did not sound anything like what Rocks sounded like.  See, I was judging a book by its cover, too!  I took a deep breath, hit the lossless track, and let the sights and sounds take me.

That’s actually what ended up happening as soon as the trippy rear projections hit the screen.  I had to sit up straight and not try to focus on them so much.  Psychedelic is one word to describe Screamadelica: Live on Blu-ray.  This being a special event and all, the boys were to play the Screamadelica album live for the first time ever in its entirety.  Primal Scream brought a gospel choir, brass section, and artist Jim Lambie onboard to enhance the experience.  Not only was this part one (part two technically) of the set, but Primal Scream would also be playing an all rock ‘n roll set of “other than” Screamadelica material.

I’ll be honest and also say that on this Blu-ray, I was not a fan (that much) of the rock set.  It would be a prologue to the much bigger event to come later on that night.  Bobby Guillespie pretty much mumbles his way through most of the rock set tracks which really irritated me, because I wanted to experience Rocks live.  It was not meant to be.  That’s what made me take a deep breath and put the Blu-ray aside for a few hours.  Once I recovered I went to the Screamdelica: Live set and I was a goner.  It’s a ten song set accompanied by some of the greatest visuals in recent memory; a visual and sonic feast, if you will.  This I approved of.  I could actually understand what Bobby was saying, too!

Screamadelica: Live is a great Blu-ray disc which comes packed with amazing special features and should be part of your Primal Scream arsenal.  Don’t let the weak rock set throw you off, in fact, on the Blu-ray both sets are broken in two.  You have the option of selecting them individually, and since it’s called Screamadelica: Live, guess which one comes first by default?  That’s right.

Screamadelica: Live setlist

Movin’ On Up

Slip Inside This House

Don’t Fight It , Feel It

Damaged

I’m Coming Down

Shine Like Stars

Inner Flight

Higher Than The Sun

Loaded

Come Together

Rock setlist

Accelerator

Country Girl

Jailbird

Burning Wheel

Suicide Bomb

Shoot Speed/Kill Light

Swastika Eyes

Rock

Video 

Screamadelica: Live is presented in 1080i 16X9 – 1.78:1 widescreen.  This is what it’s all about.  Colors are BRILLIANT and three dimensional.  They leap out at you and pull you in to the sounds.  With such bold and beautiful colors come some slight consequences, though.  Banding is a bit obvious at times, but that’s due to the heavy amount of color saturation during any given time.  Edge enhancement is also present due to some of the rear projection shots enveloping the band.  It’s not distracting, but it’s there.  Black levels are pretty consistent and they don’t crush too severely.  I’d say the contrast/black levels look their worse during the rock set, because that set is bare bones in terms of over the top production.  With that aside, Screamadelica: Live has a wonderful color palette that will sear your eyeballs.  In a good way.

Audio 

Screamadelica: Live contains three audio tracks for your pleasure.  There’s a LPCM stereo track, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and a gorgeous DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless audio track.  Guess which one I went with?  That’s right!  The lossless track wins hands down.  Vocals are discreetly centered with minimal echo, but enough envelopment.  This is a very large venue.  The people in the back should have had no problem hearing the lyrics.  The LFE was low and deep, and the guitars never ran into each other.  The sound stage was very efficiently maximized.  It’s a sound designer’s dream to work on something like this.  Screamadelica: Live is a near reference Blu-ray when it comes to sound quality and design.

Special Features 

Screamadelica: Live contains many special features.  So many that the total running time for this program is 208 minutes.  Trust me, for a concert video, that’s a lot.  In fact, it’s pretty unique, because Screamadelica: Live is basically the feature film and the rock set is a special feature.  Think about it for a minute.  The rock set is a special feature on its own.  The powers that be could have easily released this as two separate videos instead of one.  In addition to the rock set there’s a Primal Scream special on Classic Albums that showcases the humble beginnings of the Screamadelica album and the (heroin) aftermath.  That alone is one hour and there there’s almost half an hour of additional footage that didn’t make it to the finished show.  It’s great!   Bands need to take heed, because this is how rock ‘n roll special features are done!

  • Rock Set
  • Classic Albums: Screamadelica
  • 30 minute deleted scenes from Classic Albums: Screamadelica

Final Thoughts 

I may have jumped the gun initially, but that was my fault.  Whatever you do, play Screamadelica: Live in its entirety first before going into the rock set first.  You’ll enjoy it more.  There are many sights and sounds to be devoured on this Blu-ray release.  A very generous portion of special features will expose and answer every question you ever had about the band and the making of the landmark Screamadelica album.  This Blu-ray is a testament to that groundbreaking album twenty years later.  Enjoy.

 

Order Screamadelica: Live on Blu-ray!

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