N SYNC: LIVE AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
Review by Michael Jacobson
Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video: Standard 1.33:1
Length: 90 Minutes
Release Date: November 21, 2000
What is the purpose, I wonder, of issuing a star rating to
an N Sync concert? It’s
completely subjective. The millions
of fans the group has garnered around the world will love this DVD.
People like me? Well, this cookie-cutter studio polished brand of
prefabricated teen idol pop wasn’t meant for me, so what’s the point?
“Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts,”
Paul Simon has said, and N Sync is one of the Flavors of the Month right now.
They’re young, good looking, fairly decent singers and dancers, and
there’s no doubt in my mind after watching Live From Madison Square Garden that
these guys put a lot of work into their show.
And I don’t want to deny them proper credit:
there certainly is a place in the entertainment industry right now for
what they do. There’s just
not a place on MY CD shelf for it.
So I sat down to view the disc, with little or no real
knowledge of the band, figuring this might be as good a place as any to get an
introductory education. Not really.
By the time the show was over, I still didn’t have much of a clue as to
who was who in the band, nor was I sure if I was concerned or thankful for that fact.
Of course, there’s the music, a lot of which I didn’t
know save for the handful of songs that are overplayed so much on the radio they
tend to make you want to join the Amish. I
tried to listen with an open mind, but have to report…I walked away humming
none of the tunes. All of these
white bread slicked up love-you-more-than-corn-flakes songs sound alike to me.
Like I said, N Sync wasn’t created with me in mind.
The stage show itself was a little more impressive, with
plenty of lights, pyrotechnics, a big video screen, and even a platform on the
stage that took the boys up and out into the center of the crowd, where the kids
with the crappy seats had a better chance of scream-spewing their saliva on
their favorite member. During this
part, each of the guys had his own camera attached somewhere, and their POV
shots would show up on the big screen. Quite
Other parts of the show?
Well…there was a little too much padding in between numbers.
Clips and snips that were pointless and made little sense.
Most of this was done in order to mask the costume changes.
Frankly, I thought they changed clothes a little too often for a group of
guys, although I was glad to see them ditching the ridiculous outfits they
started the show with, which made them look like hobos that collided with a
rhinestone truck. Over the course
of the show, they also wore, among other things, silly looking ‘neon’ suits
for their “Digital Get Down” number and doctors’ smocks for “It Makes Me
Ill”. Particularly cheesy were
the “money” costumes for “Just Got Paid”.
All in good fun, I suppose, but drop the costume bit and
you could have gotten through the show in a little over an hour.
But I guess you have to do something when you’re a headlining
tour with only two CDs under your belt (not counting the Christmas and special
There is a high point worth mentioning: an a cappella
rendering of “I Thought She Knew”, which they mentioned to be the first song
they ever did together. It’s one
number that really shows off their vocal talents apart from the wash of the
stale instrumentations. There’s
also a low point: “Justin’s
Beat Box”. That has to be the
most embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen captured in a concert video.
But who cares what I think?
Those who love the band will snatch this disc up with both hands,
probably even proclaiming it (as many have already done at Amazon) the greatest
concert EVER. And that’s fine.
Bands like N Sync were fabricated for a certain segment of the
population, and as long as that segment responds by screaming and fainting and
forking over allowance money, these cream puff idol groups will continue to rule
the charts, while old farts like me write dismissive reviews as quickly as
possible so they can get back to their Who CDs and reminisce about a time in pop
music where rock idols played their own instruments, wrote their own songs, and
weren’t prettier than half of their female admirers.
No complaints in this department…this is a bright,
colorful and generally well-photographed presentation.
Image detail is good, particularly in the long crowd shots under
patterned lights, and colors are sharp, natural looking and well contained
throughout. The multi colored
lights, hues, and effects render very crisply throughout, with no instances of
grain, compression, or distortion.
Despite the optional 5.1 soundtrack, and under no bias from
my opinion of the music itself, this is one of the flatter sounding concerts
I’ve experienced with my DVD player. There
just wasn’t a whole lot to speak of in terms of dynamic range or bottom end.
The extra channels opened up the sound enough for a more ambient
listening experience, but I was distracted every time I noticed the applause
coming through at the same level as the music.
The music itself doesn’t seem mixed very well…I don’t know if
that’s a concert issue or a mastering issue, but there just wasn’t a good
balance or distinction amongst the instruments.
When explosions went off on stage, they didn’t come through with any
impact on the audio. It’s a clean
enough soundtrack, but ought to have been better.
Features (zero stars)