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MUSIC INFO
Synopsis:
Offering a rare chance to see a full-length concert by The Police, this release transports viewers back to 1984, with a show from their final tour. Shot in Atlanta in November 1983, Sting and his faithful cohorts Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers perform a selection of hits from throughout their career, including songs such as "Message in a Bottle," "Every Breath You Take," and "So Lonely." The show was expertly directed by Godley & Crème, a duo who carved out an impressive reputation as music video directors and musicians after leaving their band, 10CC, at the tail end of the '70s. To complete the package, the band are interviewed in Melbourne on another date on the "Synchronicity" Tour, making this a comprehensive document of their final days.

Director:
Kevin Godley, Lol Crème
Cast:
The Police (Sting, Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland)
Writing Credits:
Unknown

MPAA:
Not Rated.

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
English Dolby Stereo 2.0
Subtitles:
None
Not Closed-captioned

Runtime: 75 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 11/8/2005

Contents:
• Four Multi-Angle Tracks
• Concert Trailer
• 1984 Interview


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Police: Synchronicity Concert (1983)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 4, 2007)

Back in 1983, the Police stood at the top of the rock ‘n’ roll food chain. Five albums into their career, they were arguably the most popular band in the world, a notion reinforced by the enormous success of their 1983 record Synchronicity. “Every Breath You Take” turned into the year’s top-selling single and were it not for the Thriller juggernaut, Synchronicity might have been 1983’s biggest album as well.

For a look at the Police live during this era, we turn to this DVD simply called Synchronicity Concert. Shot in Atlanta during November 1983, the show mixes the old with the then-new. From 1978’s debut album Outlandos D’Amour, we find “Hole In My Life”, “Can’t Stand Losing You”, and “So Lonely”; to my surprise, we don’t discover megahit “Roxanne”. 1979’s Regatta De Blanc delivers “Message In a Bottle” and “Walking On the Moon”. 1980’s Zenyatta Mondatta provides “De Do Do Do De Da Da Da” while 1981’s Ghost In the Machine features “One World” and “Spirits in the Material World”. Finally, the then-current Synchronicity gives us “Synchronicity I”, “Walking In Your Footsteps”, “Wrapped Around Your Finger”, “King of Pain”, “Tea In the Sahara”, “O My God”, and “Every Breath You Take”.

Clearly the program lacks some songs from the original concert, as the Police wouldn’t play such a short show. I wasn’t able to find a full setlist for the performance in question, but I located others from the tour so I could see the normal batch of tunes. I know that the program drops “Roxanne”, “Synchronicity II”, “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”, and “Invisible Sun”. Other tracks like “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” and “Murder By Numbers” often popped up during the tour, but I can’t say for sure they’re missing from this performance.

These excisions were the odd choice made for the original 1984 VHS release. Happily, the DVD’s producers try to rectify this to some degree, as the first four tunes I mentioned appear in the supplements. It’s too bad they’re not reintegrated into the concert, but I appreciate their inclusion in any form.

The concert finds the basic three-piece Police of Sting on vocals/bass, Stewart Copeland on drums, and Andy Summers on guitar supplemented by additional performers. We get backing singers Tessa Niles, Dolette McDonald, and Michelle Cobbs. I could live without the extra vocalists; they bring nothing much to the tunes and can distract. However, they’re not a significant problem, so they don’t merit great negativity as part of the concert.

Directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Crème, the program replicates the show with reasonable efficiency, though it suffers from more stylistic excess than I’d like. Although it avoids the level of quick-cutting typical of more recent concert presentations, it still comes across as rather choppy at times. We certainly find way too many crowd shows, as we’re constantly subjected to all those terrible early Eighties fashions and hairstyles.

To create greater distractions, the directors use a mix of gimmicks. During “Message In a Bottle”, not only do we find quick color inserts between cuts, but also we briefly isolate on a fan whose image becomes isolated and supplemented by a dancing, animated line. Why? I’m sure this babe is happy she was immortalized this way, but it doesn’t work for the show. The technique receives occasional use later in the concert as well.

More problems crop up during other songs. For every one that comes across in a fairly normal fashion, we find another that boasts an annoying presentation. By far the greatest irritation occurs during “Spirits In the Material World”, where the directors insist on a flashing strobe effect through the whole song. This literally induces headaches – and maybe seizures! It’s a horrible decision that makes the song unwatchable.

For another problem, take "Wrapped Around Your Finger”. In an apparent emulation of the music video, much of it appears in slow-motion. Actually, the band usually moves at normal speed, but the crowd shots all go along slowly.

And since here – as elsewhere – we see lots of the audience, that becomes a real problem. Not since the last Paul McCartney DVD have I seen a program so obsessed with crowd shots. Does anyone – other than the participants themselves - actually enjoy these? When I watch a concert program, I want to see the concert, not those in attendance.

That becomes a somewhat fatal flaw in terms of this DVD. The performance itself is fine. I wouldn’t say that the Police kick any body parts during the show, but they sound good and offer acceptably lively renditions of the songs. Some boast a good punch missing in their studio versions, so I’d call the concert a musical success.

As a video presentation, though, it falters. I’m glad to have it, as it’s fun to get some sense of the Police live at their popular pinnacle. I just wish that the directors hadn’t tried so hard to fill the 75 minutes with extraneous visual components.


The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

The Police: Synchonicity Concert appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Perfectly average for its era, the program looked watchable and no better.

The DVD maintained a sporadically soft picture from start to finish. Close-ups demonstrated decent delineation and occasionally seemed surprisingly crisp. Those examples popped up without great frequency, but they helped make some parts of the show seem pretty accurate.

Anything wider tended to be moderately soft, though. The show often suffered from a gauzy look. Some jaggies and shimmering occurred, though neither were significant. I did see some blockiness to the production and video artifacting was apparent. Other than this aging videotape look, I didn’t see any prominent source concerns.

Colors were erratic as well. They tended to be passable but not much better. All the lighting tended to be a bit heavy and runny, though clothes were somewhat more concise. The colors just didn’t display much vivacity. Blacks were passable, but shadows seemed thick. The smattering of low-light shots tended to be tough to discern.

All of this was basically what I expected from Synchronicity Concert. I’ve seen enough material of this sort from the era to know that performances like this rarely look very good. While I can’t call this a particularly attractive presentation, it was perfectly acceptable given its age and origins.

On the other hand, while the audio of Synchronicity Concert was more successful, it presented a greater disappointment. That’s because I expected more from it. I thought the sound seemed decent to good but hoped for something better than that.

The DVD presented both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. Via my comparisons, I found little difference between the two. I actually thought vocals sounded a wee bit more concise during the Dolby mix, but those weren’t notably stronger. Consider both tracks to be very similar.

As usual with concert presentations, the soundfield focused on the front channels. There we got decent stereo imaging. Vocals were acceptably centered, though they didn’t seem as concisely localized as I’d like. Instrumentation also lacked terrific placement. The stereo spread seemed acceptable but a little mushy, as I didn’t think the elements spaced out across the front in a broad, engaging manner. This wasn’t a muddled presentation, but it could have been better blended and defined.

In terms of surround use, that side of things stayed pretty subdued. If any significant use of the back speakers occurred, I didn’t notice it. The rear channels echoed the forward range and little more than that. They gave us a bit of arena ambience, some cheering and that was it.

Like the soundfield, audio quality was good but unexceptional. Sting’s vocals tended to be a little loose, as they went with a bit more reverb than I’d like. However, this wasn’t a terrible tendency, and his singing usually sounded fine.

Otherwise, the track was fairly solid. Guitars and drums showed good definition and delineation, and bass was reasonably low and full. I could live without the level of crowd noise in the mix, though, as the audience too often became too active in the track. This mix of good and bad left me with a “B-“ for the audio.

A few extras fill out the package. We find four Multi-Angle Tracks. These allow us to see tunes not included in the main concert: “Roxanne”, “Synchronicity II”, “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”, and “Invisible Sun”. In terms of audio, we get the same three options available for the main concert.

We can watch the songs via a few different angle choices. For all but “Roxanne”, we discover four angles, while “Roxanne” sticks with two. It’s great to get all these options, and the footage looks notable clearer and cleaner than the elements in the main program. This is a fine little extra.

In addition to a short and pretty pointless Concert Trailer, we locate a 1984 Interview. During this six-minute and 36-second piece filmed in Australia, we hear notes from Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland. Each chats with a TV host separately before the band’s last show of the tour. It’s interesting to hear them talk about the state of the band at the time, especially given everything that happened after this – and the contradictions we hear among them. This isn’t a deep set of remarks, but it’s fun.

Synchronicity Concert finds the Police at the top of their game in terms of popularity – and arguably musical quality as well. The DVD presents lots of good, well-rendered music but suffers from a surfeit of annoying video gimmicks that can make it less enjoyable to watch. We get average picture, pretty decent audio, and a few minor extras. Although I don’t think this is a great release, it’s good enough for Police fans; they’ll definitely want it in their collections.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.1538 Stars Number of Votes: 13
65:
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main