Mötley Crüe: Carnival of Sins Live appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The show presented an erratic picture due to various stylistic decisions, but the DVD transferred the source material well.
Sharpness looked fine. The only issues I noticed came from camera choices, as more than a few out of focus shots appeared. Obviously that was an editing problem, not a transfer concern. Most of the show offered crisp, concise visuals. I saw no jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement wasn’t a concern.
No unintentional source defects appeared. During many between-song sequences, the program took on a scratchy, dirty look. I have no idea why the DVD’s producers deemed this a good choice, as it’s just annoying and nonsensical, but I can’t blame the transfer for a stylistic decision. The show also became somewhat grainy at times, another issue that I interpreted as an intentional choice.
Colors varied from natural to oversaturated. Once again, the problems came from production decisions. The scratchy between-song bits usually looked yellowish, though they sometimes took on a reddish hue. The DVD also exaggerated on-stage lighting at times, which meant that these tones could become too thick and dense. When allowed to feature normal colors, however, the DVD looked quite good. Those segments presented clear hues with no problems.
Blacks were fine. They presented deep and firm tones throughout the show. Shadows were erratic based on the kind of shot we saw. Crowd bits tended to be a little dark and murky, but that was almost inevitable given the shooting conditions. Ultimately, I thought Carnival represented the original program fine, but many of the choices made in its production caused it to look somewhat unattractive.
More significant problems arose when I examined the audio of Carnival of Sins Live. The DVD boasted both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. When offered on the same DVD, I often find that the two appear virtually identical, and that was especially true of Carnival. They were matched in every way, as I didn’t even find the usual difference in volume.
If asked for positives about the audio, I’d discuss the soundfield. The mix went with a pretty standard soundscape for a concert presentation. Most of the audio stayed in the forward channels. The band featured basic one guitar/drums/bass/vocals most of the night, and the mix presented those with good breadth and definition. The track opened up the music well without gimmicks. The surrounds added some crowd noise, general reinforcement and a few effects like pyrotechnics. They were fairly passive, though, as the track stayed focused on the front.
While that side of things worked fine, the quality of the audio was a problem. One major concern came from the balance of the mix. It boosted the crowd noise to ridiculous levels, as every song featured an unnatural level of shouting and cheering. This got in the way of the music and created a real distraction.
Other problems came from the integration of the musical elements. Nikki Sixx’s bass guitar was usually almost inaudible as bass drum dominated the low-end side of things. This mean bass response was muddy and thumping. Vocals also were buried in the mix to a surprising degree, and that made it tough to hear Vince Neil’s singing.
As I listened to the tracks, I got a strong impression that significant portions of the music weren’t recorded live. There’s a wide level of variation in the quality of the different elements, particularly in regard to vocals. Sometimes the singing was crystal clear, while many other parts showed rough, edgy tones with a lot of “arena reverb”. Between-song patter tended to sound like the latter, as it was really tough to make out anything the band said. I’d be shocked to learn that some – if not much – of Neil’s singing wasn’t redone in the studio for this production.
I can’t say I went into a Mötley Crüe DVD with an expectation of audiophile quality sound. It wouldn’t be right to hear this kind of music with exquisite reproduction. However, I wanted better than this. Some of the problems were conscious choices; clearly someone thought it was a great idea to crank up the crowd noise to ridiculous, distracting levels. The other issues are a different matter, and all of this makes Carnival a generally flawed auditory presentation.
Fans will find a bunch of extras on this two-DVD set. The main component comes from a documentary called Inside the Big Top. The 29-minute and 28-second program presents show clips, behind the scenes elements, and comments from bandmembers Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars, tour manager Alan Zulo, director/choreographer Tina Landon, production manager Chris Kansy, performer “Mighty Mike”, caterer Wes Tischoff, head chef Chris Mitchell, lead carpenter Tim Shanahan, bass technician Darron Meeks, lighting technician Steve Schwind, director Hamish Hamilton, guitar technician Bobby Oberdorstein, dancer Jozie DiMaria, and aerialists Alecia Schultze and Brandy Wirtz.
“Inside” gives us a pretty solid look at the concert. It leads us through all the behind the scenes elements and nuts and bolts that go into putting on the show each night. We get some nice insights into the various issues in this tight, fun piece.
We see plenty of skin during the main program, but Mötley Crüe’s Greatest *its features even more. If you didn’t figure it out on your own, “*its” stands for “tits”, and this two and a half minute clip presents lots of them. We hear some comments from the band about the “tittie-cam” and see more shots of the women of Grand Rapids. Most of these repeat from the main program, though, so don’t expect new flesh here.
A look at the show’s pyrotechnics comes with Blow It Up. The two-minute and 24-second clip includes notes from Sixx, Kansy, Mars, and Lee. They chat about the explosive specifics but don’t shed a whole lot of light on the subject. It’s a quick piece of fluff.
Meet & Greet goes for five minutes, 14 seconds and gives us a look at the VIP experience. We see some hardcore fans and hear about their love of the band. It goes for the puffy side of the street and doesn’t turn into anything interest. It feels more like an ad to sell more VIP packages than anything.
The two-minute and eight-second Disaster! The Movie gives us more of the stop-motion animation that opens the DVD. We get a trailer for a flick of this title and get a link to see more on the Internet. It reminds me a lot of Team America but looks like it might offer some amusement.
In the Music Videos area, three piece appear. We get a “time lapse view” of “On With the Show”. We hear that song while we watch the roadies build the stage in this four and a half minute segment. It makes for mildly interesting viewing.
Two regular videos appear as well. We find clips for the new songs “If I Die Tomorrow” and “Sick Love Song”. Neither video is very interesting, but “Sick” is especially lame. It just consists of concert/backstage footage, so it brings little to the table.
Inside, the package, we get a foldout poster. This shows the DVD’s cover art on one side and credits on the other.
Fans ate up Mötley Crüe’s successful 2005 tour. Too bad they won’t find a good depiction of it via Carnival of Sins Live, a messy and disjointed presentation of the concert. The DVD offers acceptable picture quality along with problematic audio and a few decent supplements. I’m sure that diehards will snap up this DVD no matter what, but I think others should stay away from this flawed product.