DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Supertramp - 'Live In Paris '79' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 15, 2015    
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Cherish the originality and ingenuity of Supertramp while delving into this amazingly recovered film.

Thinking to myself "I know this song... wait a second, that's Supertramp" happened several times when I was younger. I've always found it amazing how many famous songs have their source in the masterminds Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies. These days it has become rather quiet around the band, especially after the end of the original line-up in 1983 and the split-up of the band in 1988. Even after re-uniting ten years later (without Hodgson), Supertramp remained rather subsurface.

And so did a fantastic relict of their ten month-long 'Breakfast In America' tour; a 16mm-film that carried the moving pictures of one of their four shows that were played at the Pavillon de Paris. It was found in a cowshed of drummer Bob Siebenberg by chance after it had been declared as "lost" for a long time. The audio material of the concert had been released in shape of their live double album ('Paris') in 1980 but the video remained unseen until 2012, when 'Live In Paris '79' was first released as Blu-ray/DVD. Now we are presented with the entire concert in full as double CD (superbly re-mastered by Peter Henderson and Supertramp's sound engineer Russel Pope) and that aforementioned DVD in one complete box-set.
Visually, it is packaged in a simplistic but beautifully designed double-folded, cardboard box with an inlay booklet that gives a great (and long!) insight into the band-member's heads during the time of '...America' (by Phil Alexander).

The first audio disc starts with the magnificent sound of a highly enthusiastic crowd and the distinctive harmonica intro of 'School'. An impressive sound and mix resounds from the speakers. During the concert the entire 'Crime Of The Century' album (apart from 'If Everyone Was Listening') was played and '...America' was introduced with three songs, so literally one classical hit chases another. It is a joy for your ears and hearts.

But then there's the DVD... and folks, this is a gem! It starts with a nice history lesson around the show until a Charlie Chaplin double takes you on a mini-trip through Paris, including a pre-show-drink, "sightseeing" and making his way to the Pavillon. Whoever expects this to be a full Hi-Def optical spectacle will surely be disappointed. Remember, the footage was restored from a 16mm-film that was rescued from a cowshed... the colours are rather pale, some shots are out of focus or slightly blurred and the noise is definitely visible. For me personally, that's character; not bad at all and a true product of the late seventies. The sound, however, is fantastic and so I got soaked into the DVD portion immediately. The cameras managed to capture a wonderful bunch of musicians at their best. Rather introverted people, concentrating on their instruments and singing/playing every single note with so much passion. There isn't much action, neither in the way the film was edited and cut, nor in how the band interacts on the rather massive stage (occupied by Siebenberg's huge drum-set and John Helliwell's numerous woodwinds).

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Close-ups of Davies singing 'Bloody Well Right' with his unique and powerful voice, Dougie Thomson hammering on his bass and Helliwell interacting with the audience in the most sweet way are just great to watch, especially as the effectively inserted split-screen feature that is used shows the two singers alternating vocal-lines. Apart from that there were only little efforts regarding visual show entertainment elements. The first of these is during the piano-solo and ending of 'Rudy'; we can see a train on full-speed running down the tracks, while pictures of the band were integrated half transparent. Secondly, as 'Asylum' starts, it was obviously time to go nuts since a dancing gorilla and a banana (no, I'm not fooling you...) are entertaining the eight thousand people in the audience. A small choir supports the five-piece during 'Hide In Your Shell' and appears again in 'Fool's Overture', together with Chaplin, a clown and some other figures while Helliwell is conducting. It all accumulates in "goose-bumps alert" when the biographies of the members are displayed whilst 'Crime Of The Century' is played and a very happy Chaplin is heading off home after the credits appear during 'From Now On'.

The bonus tracks, which include 'Ain't Nobody But Me' and 'A Soap Box Opera', are nothing really special and they all appeared on the original Blu-ray release. Although the sound has been re-mixed, there is no actual footage but a good solution has been found using video montages and computer-animations that nicely compensate for the lack of visual material.

As mentioned before, this release is a wonderful memento of a historical band and concert. Cherish the originality and ingenuity of Supertramp while delving into this amazingly recovered film – and audio material – and share a smile when you (possibly) drift back on your first time thinking "wow... that's Supertramp?!".

Julia Braun

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