Following the success of their 1999 DVD release, "The Videos 86-98", British musical group Depeche Mode have now decided to bring their exciting live show to DVD. Originally broadcast as a pay-per-view event, "One Night In Paris" comes home to DVD in a special two-disc set, courtesy of Hip-O Records and Universal Music.
The concert featured on this DVD was part of the bandís 2001 Exciter Tour. The show was captured at The Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy and was attended by over 16,000 screaming Depeche Mode fans. Featuring founding band members David Gahan (vocals), Martin Gore (guitar/keyboards), and Andrew Fletcher (keyboards), along with Christian Eigner (drums), Peter Gordeno (keyboards) and Jordan Bailey and Georgia Lewis (backing vocals), this two-hour show encompasses the high-energy ritual that is a Depeche Mode concert. Featuring such classic tracks as "Never Let Me Down Again", "Personal Jesus", "Black Celebration", and "Enjoy the Silence", as well as several tracks off of the recent "Exciter" LP, such as "Dream On", the show manages to explore the history of the band, while focusing on their present success as well. Gahan struts about the stage, oozing energy and passion for the music, while Gore (looking for all the world like actor Peter MacNicol, save for the feathers on his shoulder) demonstrates his prowess on guitar. The band clearly loves playing live and does a great deal to connect with the audience. The show is fun and spontaneous and the finale is awe-inspiring. Overall, this will be a delightful treat for Depeche Mode fans and a nice introduction to the group for the uninitiated.
"One Night in Paris" was directed by famed photographer Anton Corbijn and was shot on Digital Betacam using 13 cameras. With this DVD, the featured is presented in an anamorphic widescreen, and has been letterboxed at 1.85:1. The use of digital video to capture this live show has given the concert a dichotomous look. The image is very sharp and clear, as would be expected with a video feature. However, as there are often very bright lights shining directly into the camera, the picture can appear slightly grainy at times, but this is never distracting. One thing that does look fine here are the colors. The lighting involved in the show offers a great deal of reds and blues, and they translate well here. Also, the dark corners of the stage appear as truly black. The clear, yet at time gritty look of the DVD helps to convey the feeling of being in the audience.
There are also two sides to the audio presentation on this DVD. The audio track here is a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix and it sounds great. The sound is very clear and there is no distortion. The stereo separation is top-notch and the use of surround effects place the viewer squarely in the concert crowd. The bass sounds good as well, although it is a bit flat at times. The problem with the audio is that it sounds too good. Being a primarily electronic band, one would expect Depeche Mode to have a clean sound, but the audio here is a bit too polished. It simply doesnít sound live. Gahanís voice is crystal-clear and the crowd noise is at a minimum during the songs. For many viewers this may be a non-issue, but I donít want a live performance to sound just like the studio album. Having said that, most will find this audio track to be more than adequate. (Although, itís not as good at the DTS track on the Nine Inch Nails DVD.)
The second disc of this set offers many special features, all of which have interesting titles. We start with "The Preparing". This 8-minute segment offers interviews with production manager Bill Leabody, lighting director Paul Normandale, production coordinator Lee Charteris, stage designer/director Anton Corbijn, and manager Jonnathan Kessler. These individuals discuss the preparations for the tour and describe the part that they play in making the concerts happen. Corbijn displays an interesting model of the stage set-up. Corbijn is featured again in "The Photographing", one of the oddest DVD extras Iíve ever seen. This is essentially a still gallery, with 26 pictures of the band in concert. A commentary by Corbijn accompanies these stills. The bad thing is that it runs on for 52 minutes, and gets very monotonous and boring after a while, although photographers may find this interesting.
Next up, we have two more sets of interviews. In "The Waiting", the camera roams the outside of The Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy interview Depeche Mode fans. Most simply discuss their love for the band and one guy does an intriguing impression of David Gahan. Some of these people speak only in French, without subtitles. With the 11-minute segment, "The Talking", we are treated to a series of backstage interviews with Gahan, Gore, and Fletcher, as each is asked a specific question. The questions are both thought-provoking and intimate, making this a unique way to get to know the members.
The next extra is one of the most original that Iíve ever seen. During the concert, there are films projected onto the screen behind the stage. With "The Screening", one can watch these short films by themselves, with the accompaniment of their respective music (in Dolby 5.1). The songs are "Waiting for the Night", "It Doesnít Matter Two", "In Your Room", "Itís No Good", and "Black Celebration". These films were created by Anton Corbijn and this feature gives one a chance to focus on them without being distracted by the live show. Next, we have "The Choosing", which is simply the performance of "Never Let Me Down Again", but with a multi-angle viewing option, giving the viewer three different views to choose from. The extras are rounded out by what is essentially a bonus track -- a live performance of "Sister of Night".
Music DVDs continue to grow in their expansiveness and complexity, and "Depeche Mode: One Night in Paris" is a great example of this. The DVD offers a great presentation of the bandís live show and many extras that fans should love. This is one DVD that wonít let you down.