U2: ZooTV Live from Sydney appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While not a terrific visual presentation, I must admit Sydney looked better than expected for a videotaped performance from 1993.
Sharpness was reasonably solid. Inevitably, wide shots tended to come across with varying levels of softness. However, most of the show seemed more than adequately defined, and I never though the soft spots caused significant distractions. Only minor instances of shimmering jagged edges appeared, and no edge haloes created concerns. Source flaws were absent in this clean presentation.
Colors varied dependent on the lighting schemes. This wasn’t a bright, color-rich show; it mostly stayed with reds and dark tones. These could be a little mushy at times but usually seemed acceptably accurate and concise. Blacks were nice and deep, while the low-light shots showed good clarity. Despite some concerns, I thought the image was good enough to merit a “B-“.
Even better were the soundtracks of Sydney. In addition to the original stereo audio, we got new Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes. Both seemed fairly similar, though I preferred the Dolby edition. I’ll discuss it first and then explain what seemed different between the two tracks.
As with most concert presentations, the soundfield concentrated on the front speakers. The music boasted nice stereo delineation in the front as the instruments spread across the speakers. Everything was easy to discern and appropriately placed. The surrounds usually focused on crowd noise, though they contributed an effective but not distracting layer of stadium ambience as well. I thought the soundfield created a solid sense of place and put us in the action.
Audio quality was also quite good. Vocals avoided the annoying stadium echo often layered onto this kind of footage. The singing seemed appropriate to the setting and reasonably natural and concise. High-end material presented nice bite and definition, while low-end was warm and full. Bass response always came across with good depth, and those elements rounded out the package well. All of this was good enough to end up with a “B+” soundtrack.
How did the DTS track differ from the Dolby one? I thought the soundfield and bass response were similar, but the Dolby mix exhibited greater bite when it came to high-end. Those elements were just a little dull on the DTS version. I didn’t think this was a tremendous difference, but it was enough to make me prefer the Dolby edition.
While the single-disc version of Sydney offered the concert, a booklet and nothing else, this “Deluxe Edition” adds a second platter of extras. These split into three areas: “Bonus Tracks”, “Extras” and “Documentaries”. Under Bonus Tracks, we find four numbers. “Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World” and “Desire” come from August 1992 performances at Yankee Stadium. Both previously aired on a 1992 Fox special.
“Desire” is particularly interesting due to Bono’s flashy suit and over the top narcissistic character. “Arms” offers some montage elements as we see a slew of babes Bono brought onstage for the song. “Desire” also throws out a bunch of shots taken from Bono in the streets and adds non-concert audio. It doesn’t help that we occasionally hear annoying narration from the TV show’s host. Why the DVD omits the Sydney performance of “Arms” cut from the original video remains a mystery to me. I’m also not wild about the plain 2.0 audio here. I’m glad to get these tracks, but neither stands out as tremendously memorable.
Next come two songs from the June 19 1992 “Stop Sellafield Concert”. We get “The Fly” and “Even Better Than the Real Thing”. Both continue to suffer from lackluster 2.0 sound, and the presentation is erratic too. Due to constant text overlays and choppy cutting, “The Fly” is almost unwatchable, and “Thing” also subjects us to various video gimmicks. This negatively affects both tunes.
As we shift to “Extras”, two elements appear. Video Confessional lasts five minutes, 14 seconds and shows various concertgoers as they tape admissions about themselves. This was vaguely interesting in the context of the live show but kind of annoying here. Numb Karaoke gives us a kind of music video for “Numb” and removes Edge’s vocals from the audio so we can croon along with it. This is interesting as an alternate version of the song, but I don’t care about the Karaoke side of things.
Now we move to the three “Documentaries”. A Fistful of Zoo TV runs seven minutes, 49 seconds and offers a fairly chaotic look at the concert tour. We get quick soundbites from Bono, Edge, and Larry Mullen along with short concert clips. The highlights come from Bill Clinton’s call to the band during a radio show as well as a montage of MacPhisto bits. Otherwise this piece is too coherent to add much, especially since the last few minutes just reiterate the version of “Desire” we get elsewhere.
Zoo TV – The Inside Story goes for four minutes and 11 seconds as it presents some remarks from the Edge and Brian Eno about the tour’s genesis and development. Despite the clip’s brevity, it gives us a few nice insights, especially when it takes us behind the scenes of the complicated production.
Finally, Trabantland fills seven minutes, 47 seconds with remarks from Bono, Mullen, Edge, Adam Clayton, manager Paul McGuinness, photographer Anton Corbijn, and Trabant plant manager Dieter Otto. They tell us of why the band used Trabants in the “One” video and in the tour. A few good comments appear, but the show mostly gives us shots of the Trabants.
The “Deluxe Edition” offers a booklet that expands on the one from the single-disc set. It includes the same photos and text from Adrian Deevoy as well as some other elements. Deevoy adds comments about the DE and we get some interesting reproductions of bits such as the fake money handed out at the shows. The expanded booklet is a winner.
This DE also includes copious Easter Eggs. For the first one, land on “Extras” on the main menu. Go “Right” from there and then “Down”. Now press “Enter” to get a screen that says “Abort”. From there, press 2, 7, 1, and 1 in order. This treats you to a time lapse look at the set-up and breakdown of the Zoo TV arena stage as well as a really fast version of the concert. Accompanied by Zooropa’s “Some Days Are Better Than Others”, the four-minute and 14-second clip is an interesting one-time diversion.
From the “Documentaries” page, highlight “Play All” and zoom through the material. Back at that menu, highlight “Subtitles” and press “Down” and then “Left”. This spotlights an “O” onscreen; hit “Enter” when this happens and you’ll be able to see “Interference”, a 24-minute and 45-second documentary. “Interference” features remarks from Bono, Edge, Mullen, and Clayton. They discuss the band’s origins and path up until Achtung Baby. We then follow that album’s creation and the involved elements as well as some info about Zoo TV. It’s a good mix of various musical clips and information.
For the final Egg, head to “Extras” and go to the part that reads “DVD Credits”. Press “Down” then “Right” to bring up another “O”. Hit “Enter” for another “Abort” screen and then click on 1, 9, 9, and 3 in sequence. For all that work you’ll get an odd 75-second collection of nuclear war-related warnings and images. It’s kind of a waste of time, though if you listen closely, you’ll hear audio from Alien in the background.
Whether or not U2’s 1992-93 ZooTV tour stands as their best remains up for debate. Personally, I preferred 1997’s PopMart as an in-person experience, but ZooTV works awfully well as a video program. Live In Sydney presents a memorable show with vivacity and clarity. The DVD offers reasonably good video along with pretty solid audio. The “Deluxe Edition” adds a minor smattering of extras.
As a diehard U2 fan, I’m happy to have this two-disc DE. However, I think it’ll appeal mostly to collectors like me. The DE retails for $13 more than the single-DVD version, and for most people, it won’t be worth the extra money.
To rate this film visit the original review of U2: ZOO TV LIVE FROM SYDNEY