Rockshow appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. No one will view this as a killer visual presentation, but it matched the source well.
Thatís code for ďdonít expect greatness from a concert movie shot in 1976Ē. Sharpness varied quite a bit. At best, the movie showed nice clarity and delineation, but it could go soft on more than a few occasions. This was virtually inevitable given the shooting conditions; clearly no one added lights to facilitate filming, so the cameras captured standard stage illumination.
This meant inconsistent delineation, but I found the sharpness to seem perfectly acceptable and often better. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain varied but remained natural; it could be heavy due to those lighting challenges, but I didnít think this distracted. Print flaws failed to appear.
In terms of colors, the lighting offered the most obvious variation in hues, and these elements were up and down. Sometimes the colors seemed pretty peppy, while on other occasions, they looked less vivid. They remained appropriate for the filming conditions and seemed pretty good most of the time. Blacks came across with reasonable depth, and low-light shots gave us fairly nice clarity, even with the grain.
When I awarded a grade to Rockshow, I found it tough to decide. I went with a ďBĒ but Iíve given lower grades to images that looked more attractive in an objective sense. That said, I thought the ďBĒ was fully justified given the age and limitations of the source. Plus, thereís no question this footage has never looked remotely this good. I felt pleased with the image.
As for the filmís DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it required no equivocation, as it delivered a great auditory experience. The mix took advantage of the five speakers in an immersive but not gimmicky manner. Vocals remained up-front, and most of the instruments concentrated on logical locations as well, with good stereo spread across the forward channels; the elements popped up in appropriate, natural places.
The surrounds added a light, supportive layer of crowd noise Ė never too much, never too little Ė and some instrumentation as well. This seemed most apparent during the acoustic portion of the show, as the guitars delivered a light sense of envelopment from the back channels. This remained unobtrusive, so donít fear that the instruments will overwhelm from the rear speakers. Instead, they flesh out the setting in a lively manner.
Audio quality was always terrific. Vocals were natural and crisp, while the instruments sounded accurate and distinctive. Highs popped with accuracy, and bass seemed warm and rich. Iíve heard these songs hundreds of times and thought they sounded terrific here; this was a textbook example of how to do a 5.1 concert remix the right way.
Note that some viewers of Rockshow have commented on problems with the audio. Some feel the backing vocals are inaudible and some of the instruments are lost in the mix. Others have stated that the bass drops out periodically during the movie.
I donít know what issues befell these folks, but I can say that I didnít encounter them. I thought backing vocals were lower in the mix than during WOA but theyíre still perfectly audible, and I had no trouble detecting any of the instruments whatsoever. In particular, I read comments that Jimmyís guitar went MIA, but that was far from the case, as I heard his playing with ease.
The bass dropout issue seems a bit more complicated. Some of these comments may reflect the listenerís HT setup and not the disc itself, but enough people have encountered this concern that there may be a defective run of Blu-rays out there. All I know for sure is that none of these issues affected the audio on the disc I played and I wouldnít forgo a purchase of Rockshow due to fear; even if there is a bad run, it shouldnít be tough to get the defective disc replaced.
Only a few extras show up here. A Very Lovely Party runs 10 minutes, six seconds and shows behind the scenes footage accompanied by Wings songs. Even with some glimpses of Ringoís visit backstage, nothing exceptional appears here, but itís an enjoyable reel. The fan interviews at the end arenít all that interesting, though I do like the one fan who apparently thinks the Beatles were just McCartney and a backing band.
In addition, we find Liner Notes from BBC host Paul Gambaccini. He talks about the tour and the movie, and we also get some tour photos and press materials. Gambacciniís style tends to be a bit too terse Ė and he uses verb tenses that imply present when they mean past Ė but he adds some useful notes.
Given how much I love the music and performances found during Rockshow, was there any chance I wouldnít adore the movie? Not much, and indeed, I find a lot to embrace here. Rockshow provides great songs played well and captured with tasteful, concise visuals Ė whatís not to love? The Blu-ray offers acceptable picture quality that represents the source as well as excellent audio. The disc skimps on bonus materials, but a boy canít have everything.
Iím happy to finally own a high-quality home video version of Rockshow and give it a high recommendation; if you like Paul McCartney, this becomes a must-buy. (And if you donít, what the heck is wrong with you?)