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Chart-topping singer/songwriter Phil Collins takes the City of Lights by storm in this thrilling live performance.

David Mallet
Phil Collins
Writing Credits:

Not Rated.

Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.0
English PCM Stereo
Not closed-captioned

Runtime: 88 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 5/20/2003

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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.


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Phil Collins: Live and Loose in Paris (1997)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 1, 2003)

During the Eighties, Phil Collins emerged as one of the biggest names in pop music. Both with Genesis and on his own, Collins topped the charts much of the time with band records like Invisible Touch or solo records such as No Jacket Required.

And then the Nineties came, and Collins hit a rockier road. Oh, he didn’t vanish completely, but except for his successful soundtrack to Disney’s Tarzan, Collins failed to make a tremendous impact on the charts. All of his Eighties albums got into the top ten, Collins’ Nineties solo releases failed to crack single digits.

1996’s Dance Into the Light failed to even enter the top 20, as it peaked at 23 in the US. The tour behind that album shows up on Live and Loose In Paris, a concert filmed in 1997. Staged at the very end of the trek in December, this DVD includes 15 tunes from the performance.

Only three songs from Light show up on the disc’s truncated presentation. We get the title track along with “Lorenzo” and “Wear My Hat”. Otherwise, the songs span various periods of Collins’ solo career. From 1981’s Face Value, we find the hit “In the Air Tonight” and “Hand In Hand”. “Against All Odds” emanates from the soundtrack from the 1983 film of the same name, and “Easy Lover” comes from a 1984 collaboration with Earth, Wind and Fire’s Phillip Bailey on the latter’s Chinese Wall.

When we get to 1985’s smash No Jacket Required - the definitive peak of Collins’ solo career – we discover “Don’t Lose My Number”, “Long Long Way to Go” and “Sussudio”. Also from 1985 we get the single “Separate Lives”. 1989’s ...But Seriously presents “Another Day In Paradise”, “Hang In Long Enough” and “Something Happened On the Way to Heaven”. Apparently “Timbantiocha” is a Collins original that never appeared on a studio release or single. The DVD’s setlist totally omits anything from 1982’s Hello! I Must Be Going and 1993’s Both Sides.

I liked Collins well enough back in the day to see him in concert twice. I took in shows during his 1985 and 1990 solo tours. I also went to a Genesis concert in 1987, but I preferred Collins as a solo artist. While not a great live performer, he gave his all and put on a fun and lively show enhanced with his ebullient personality.

That side comes through reasonably well on Loose, though the performance’s location probably restricted his chattiness. As Collins played in front of a French crowd, I expect he limited his jokes and didn’t gab as much as he might during a US or UK show. In addition, the DVD may have cut some of his between-song patter in the interest of time. Although I couldn’t find a full setlist for the Paris shows, Collins averaged about 28 songs per night, so clearly the disc doesn’t represent the entire original performance.

Since Collins originally made his name as a drummer, fans will be happy to note that he hits the skins for a few songs. He does so during parts of “Hand In Hand”, “In the Air Tonight”, “Timbantiocha”. In addition, Collins adds some percussion to “Lorenzo” and plays piano during “Long Long Way to Go”.

Directed by veteran David Mallet, Loose provides exactly the kind of presentation I expect from him. Efficient and effective, Mallet covers the action well but the video never rises above that level. Mallet is basically the “Old Reliable” of the filmed concert world. You won’t get anything fresh or innovative from him, but he gives you a clean and accurate representation of the original event, which seems fine with me.

The same workmanlike feel comes across during the show itself. The band present a lot of good performers, some of whom worked with Collins for years prior to this tour. They mesh together well, and while none of them stand out from the crowd, they support each other nicely and create a cohesive and tight ensemble.

Collins himself seems a little more subdued than I remember. Whether he grew more introverted on stage over the years or if the editing of the program simply removed some of his antics I can’t say, but he didn’t come across as tremendously lively. Still, he did loosen up as the concert progressed, and the last few numbers show him in higher spirits.

Overall, I’d classify Live and Loose as a good but not great performance from a good but not great musician with some good but not great songs. I don’t mean to indicate that I see Phil Collins as a mediocre musical entity, but he remains somewhat bland overall, and this show doesn’t appear likely to win him new fans. However, those with even a passing interest in Collins’ music should get a kick out of it, for it presents his work in a positive light.

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

Phil Collins: Live and Loose In Paris 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. A fairly average presentation, the picture displayed a mix of highs and lows that seemed pretty typical for videotaped concerts.

Sharpness mostly worked well. Occasionally I thought that wider images came across as a bit muddy and indistinct, and I couldn’t say that the program ever looked tremendously crisp or detailed. However, it almost always remained acceptably well defined and distinct. I noticed no issues related to shimmering or edge enhancement, but jagged edges caused definite distractions. Actually, that issues was the main one I encountered here, as quite a lot of subjects and objects showed rough edges. These seemed especially prominent in wide shots, as the picture displayed my TV’s scan lines a lot more obviously than usual. Source flaws looked absent, as I noticed no defects related to the original production.

As with most concert videos, colors mostly reflected the show’s lighting. The musicians generally wore neutral colors; for example, Collins came clad in a white T-shirt and khaki slacks. Blues dominated the lighting scheme, though other hues appeared; reds, oranges and some other tones also popped up at times. The colors mostly seemed clean, though they occasionally came across as a bit heavy. Black levels were decent but not great, as some inkiness appeared at times. Low-light situations seemed reasonably visible and concise, though the image took on something of an overblown look at times. The lighting occasionally overwhelmed the cameras’ capacity to capture it, which lent a bit of a glow to things. Loose wasn’t the best-looking concert presentation I’ve seen, but it also was far from being the worst.

I felt the same way about the Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack of Live and Loose In Paris. As one might expect of a live show, the front spectrum dominated the proceedings. The music featured a generally good sense of stereo imaging. The placement of Collins’ vocals fared the worst, as they showed up in a fairly vague spot somewhere around the center but not firmly stuck there. Otherwise, the mix seemed airy and open as the instruments popped up in appropriate places. This created a nice feeling of localization that spread the elements cleanly. The surrounds added a solid sense of atmosphere. Crowd noise dominated that side of things, but the music reverberated in the rear speakers as well, and we occasionally got some unique instrumentation from that area. For example, when Collins entered the venue at the start of the program, percussion popped up in the surrounds; the drum-heavy instrumental “Timbantiocha” also followed this pattern. This didn’t become gimmicky; instead, it added a little life to the proceedings.

Audio quality was acceptable but faltered a little bit. Mostly the high-end failed to sound as crisp as I’d like. The treble side of things lacked some bite and could seem somewhat canned. Vocals displayed slightly excessive echo, and that made them a little distant and powerless. This also made drums sound somewhat thin and flat. Other instruments appeared reasonably natural and accurate, and bass response was good despite the absence of a dedicated LFE channel. At times the bass was a little muddy, but mostly the low-end seemed tight and rich.

In addition to this 5.0 track, Loose included a PCM stereo mix. Unless you really like the “concert atmosphere” feeling offered by a surround presentation, I’d recommend that you go with the stereo track. It seemed substantially more direct and natural. Whatever it lacked in dimensionality, it compensated with clarity and strength. The entire stereo mix appeared firmer and more musical. I only graded the 5.0 track above, but if I were to issue a mark for the stereo piece, I’d award it a “B+”.

In a nice touch, the DVD includes English subtitles for all the lyrics and Collins’ between-song patter. (Actually, those are technically French subtitles, since most of his speech comes in that language.) Unfortunately, Live and Loose In Paris offers no supplements. Since the DVD doesn’t present the entire concert, it’s too bad we didn’t get the missing songs as an extra.

Despite the lack of bonus materials, Phil Collins fans should dig Live and Loose In Paris. Not quite a greatest hits presentation, the show nonetheless includes a lot of the singer’s best-known tracks, and it intersperses some lesser lights as well. The DVD features adequate picture and sound with no supplements. With a list price of almost $25, Live and Loose seems slightly pricey for such a simple package, but it still should please those with an affinity for Collins.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.8181 Stars Number of Votes: 22
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