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Français pour une nuit

February 11th, 2010 · Posted by Skuds in Music · No Comments · Music

My copy of Français pour une nuit, the new Metallica concert DVD arrived today.  I haven’t watched it totally from beginning to end, but I have dipped into it and watched about half of it.  While it is a great DVD I don’t think it really does them justice, and it certainly did not bring back memories of seeing them last March as much I hoped it would.The setting is absolutely spectacular – the roman amphitheatre at Nimes.  Although this gives more scope for fireworks than the indoor show at the O2 Arena that I saw, there was not too much advantage taken of that.  In fact I thought the stage effects were less impressive than at the O2.  It really could have done with the coffin lighting rigs, but maybe you really need a roof to hang them from.

The most amazing thing was probably the set list.  It is 18 tracks long, as it was in London, but only half of them were the same tracks.  I remember seeing Pink Floyd towards the beginning of a world tour in Australia and then again about six months later at the end of the same tour at Wembley and I think the set list was identical, or very nearly.  Changing the set list around so much within a tour is admirable really, and prevents the band getting bored. It must also be a testament to their catalogue that they have so much choice, and it means having a much larger repertoire rehearsed – not just by the band but by the lighting, sound and effects crews – but from my selfish perspective it is a bit of a shame that only half of it can act as a semi-memento of my own experience of the tour.

Having said that, the DVD does include the song Cyanide from the Death Magnetic album: possibly my favourite off the album.  I can remember being a bit miffed that when I saw them there were about six tracks from the new album but not that one.  The obligatory cover version was not Motorhead’s Overkill that they did at the O2 but Queen’s Stone Cold Crazy, and an unlisted extra track was a short blast of the Marseillaise in deference to their French hosts.

In further deference to the French, the whole concert was apparently filmed by a totally French crew and the DVD box is all in French.  This nod to the French is only slightly undermined by James Hetfield repeatedly pronouncing the S in Nimes…

There is one major problem with the whole thing, and that is the camerawork.  I am not talking about the choice of shots or the editing – they could have been better but were not terrible.  Not as bad as, say, Mike Mansfield’s Jean-Michel Jarre concert films. I am talking about the actual shots from one of the cameras.  There was a remote-controlled camera on a dolly on tracks going across the front of the stage and all the pictures from this were wrong.  They were going in and out of focus, which is very annoying.  Unfortunately that camera was often giving the best shots so they had to use a lot of footage from it.

I don’t know whether it was just a malfunctioning camera, or some instability in the trolley, or vibrations from all the noise not getting cancelled out properly, but it was truly awful, and I am genuinely surprised they let it go out like that.

It was still an enjoyable concert film though.  There is a lot to be admired about Metallica.  They may be huge in terms of popularity, the venues they play and the stage they play on, but they are still a very basic band – just the drums, bass and two guitars: no extra musicians playing in the wings, choirs, dancers, horn section or anything like that.  You could imagine them being able to play in the local pub or community centre if they had to.

Mind you, they would have to overcome their addiction to showing off their guitar collection by changing instruments for just about every song if they played the local pub.  Normally it is just lead guitarists who suffer from this compulsion, but even Rob Trujillo used at least three of four different bass guitars.  It must be a real frustration for Lars to be stuck with the same drum kit all evening.

The dodgy pictures from the main camera almost make this one to avoid, but I doubt there will be another film from that tour coming out, and it is the first full-length concert film to feature Rob Trujillo so a must-watch DVD for anybody even marginally interested in thrash metal.

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