Now I'm not going to pretend that I understand all this High Definition malarkey. But thanks to the appearance of some state of the art equipment 'round my way, what better way to test it out than with the HD-DVD re-release of UFOs 2005 double DVD Showtime!
As you should all know, UFO are one of the greatest British hard rock bands of all time. Argue amongst yourself until your blue in the face, but I'm right. They were also amongst the most temperamental. Firing, hiring and splitting up on almost a weekly basis, they still found time to knock out classic after classic. But who would have thought that the 21st century would have seen them putting out not only good albums, but also turning in some vintage live performances?
For those not paying attention, when this DVD was filmed, UFO were singer Phil Mogg, bassist Pete Way, and guitarist Paul Raymond from their classic seventies days, joined by American guitar virtuoso, Vinnie Moore, and drummer for hire, Jason Bonham (subsequently replaced by original drummer Andy 'No Neck' Parker). The main feature here is their concert in Wilhelmshaven, Germany in May 2005, in front of a surprisingly muted crowd, unlike the fervour their UK shows were generating at the time.
It's a fine performance with a clutch of great songs – with "Mother Mary," "I’m A Loser," "This Kids" and "Love To Love," the pick of the bunch. Having already seen the original DVD, I can vouch for the sharpness of the picture and audio on this HD version. But it's over on DVD 2 that you get the real treats. Here the band play six tunes performed in the studio with a string quartet.
There's not an awful lot extra on this version, although some fancy HD features have been incorporated such as ‘picture-in-picture’ interviews and ‘on the fly’ menus, which can be operated while viewing the film. Something largely lost on me, as I sat back and soaked in the music. The original features include a making of the DVD piece, interviews with the band and crew members, slideshow, discography, a making of studio songs feature, footage from a Rockboat performance and footage from the band’s 2004 US tour.
If you've never heard UFO, slap yourself about the head, then nip off and buy a copy of Obsession and Strangers In The Night first. Then buy this. For those already in thrall to their brilliance (and with the requisite equipment), this will be a treat.