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Having been around since the mid eighties The Goo Goo Dolls brand of alternate rock and pop is something many will be familiar with. It is not however a sound that I appreciate, one that has far too much in common with the soft popular rock ballads of Bon Jovi and Aerosmith without ever approaching a level of distinction or originality those two music giants achieved in their prime. With that being the case and the fact I don't really see myself as a music critic I'll be steering clear of offering anything more than a critique of the disc and its value as a live music experience for fans of the group.

Comprised of Johnny Rzeznik, Robby Takac and Mike Malinin, The Goo Goo Dolls returned to their hometown of Buffalo, New York on July 4th, 2004 to give an Independence Day concert. The 74-minute live set is made all the more interesting by the fact the heavens open with band and crowd bombarded with torrential downpours. To their credit however the show must go on with both band and crowd staying put, keeping the energy levels high and the instruments miraculously still working (albeit with more changes than most live guitar bands usually go through).

Set List
Big Machine
Naked
Slide
Think About Me
Smash
Tucked Away
Black Balloon
Dizzy
Name
Cuz You're Gone
Sympathy
January Friend
Here Is Gone
What A Scene
Acoustic #3
Two Days in February
Broadway
Iris
Give A Little Bit


The set allows for a mixture of plugged and acoustic tracks, none of which particularly gripped this viewer with the exception of "Iris", a track no doubt many others will be familiar with thanks to its memorable tune and powerful vocals that featured most prominently on the soundtrack for City of Angels.

The DVD

Coded for Regions 2-5 this UK release is presented in the NTSC Video Standard. Unlikely to trouble the large majority and fairly typical for a Music DVD release this is something prospective buyers should make sure they can play before purchasing.

The retail release not only includes the DVD but also a bonus CD which includes the concert audio and the studio version of The Goo Goo Dolls new cover single, "Give A Little Bit".

Picture and Sound

Presented in 1.78:1 Anamorphic NTSC Widescreen the transfer is generally pretty good for a live concert recorded on digital video. Live performances are some of the hardest material to encode for DVD but the work done here shows little to be concerned about, with strong detail levels, solid colour separation and little in the way of macro blocking although when the rain begins to kick in you will see a few problems arise. The only real continuous problem that varied between setups I tested the disc on were some rather serious signs of aliasing, with the stage floor, symbols on the drum kit and head and strings of the guitars all suffering with rows of diagonal lines running into one another. I suspect the NTSC resolution has something to do with this and certainly a progressive display appeared to help things along, but not to the point of this issue disappearing completely.

In terms of audio we are given the choice between Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mixes. The latter seems to be the obvious choice here, with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mixes for any form of music seriously lacking in the punch they require (Linear PCM is the only way to go in this reviewer's opinion) whereas the 5.1 mix opens up the stage, giving the live performance much needed depth and a considerable boost in the decibel levels. A testament to the sound engineers is how little the heavy rain comes through to the mix, something those looking for a sense of "being there" may disapprove of, but if you actually want to hear and appreciate the songs then this is most certainly a good thing to have filtered out.

There are no subtitles for the concert.

Extras

Subtitles for the bonus features detailed below are provided in English, Portuguese, French, German, Japanese and Spanish.

Audio commentary with the band and select crew members is basically something the fans will likely love, as they casually chat over the proceedings having a laugh, talking about the circumstances under which they played and swearing like troopers (of which everything is bleeped out).

A documentary can be found in the bonus section, running for thirty minutes featuring behind-the-scenes footage, stage preparation, rehearsals, meet and greets with the fans, TV interviews and much more with the band and road crew.

Overall

Bart Simpson once said all the best bands are affiliated with Satan, and this is something I never really drew from The Goo Goo Dolls. They have plenty of energy, giving their fans a good live performance but this is a happy energy, one akin to a bad experience I once had with Hootie and the Blowfish, and that just doesn't work for me with a plethora of riffs and lyrics that failed to really grab hold. Of course there is nothing actually wrong with having fun on stage but the light-hearted antics scream "music your parents would approve of" and appear to hold a similar weight to the quality of tracks performed here.

If you are a fan then feel free to bash me in the comments below, add 2-3 points to the Film and Overall scores, and be safe in the knowledge this is a technically adept package with bonus features you will appreciate and a CD version of the concert for you to listen to in the car.
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