Red Hot Chili Peppers - Live At Slane Castle Review

The Film

Concert films are tricky things to capture. How on earth do you manage to recreate the adrenaline rush that comes from watching a great band live, actually in the flesh, performing songs in front of thousands of people? The simple answer is that you can’t, you can only hope to do the next best thing and capture the event as candidly and as honestly as possible. The really good concert films manage this, but the very best manage to do something else as well. They realise that this is a hybrid event, a cross between a live event and a recording and so use the medium to try and build on the live element and introduce something more into the mix. Live At Slane Castle manages this latter element very well, but not for the reason you might expect if you’ve read any of the publicity.

We’d better get it out of the way, then, this bullet-time thing. There is no faster way to date something than to use this technique and it’s difficult to believe that something so revolutionary passed into cliché so quickly. For many, it was the Harvester ads, with their fast spin around a tossed salad that broke the camels back. However, it hasn’t been used in a live setting before (though you can bet this won’t be the first time) and certain credit must be given for coming up with the idea. Actually, no, no credit at all should be given with coming up with the idea as it’s about as lazy as you can imagine, credit should instead be given to the director and editor who resist the temptation to over-use the technique. Blink at the wrong time, and you might watch the whole thing unaware of it at all.

As to the film itself, then, and happily it’s very good indeed. It’s a strange one, as far as concert films go, as it begins in daylight. Not the obvious choice for filming, as the atmosphere at daylight concerts is usually lacking but it works rather well, and the sight of the 80’000 sell-out crowd certainly looks breathtaking. This gives the film a natural sort of lighting effect that actually makes perfect sense in that as it progresses it gets darker and the lights come on and so forth and the effect is quite stunning.

The music itself is, of course, outstanding. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the best live bands in the world at the moment and there’s nothing here to bring that reputation into dispute. They look so disgustingly healthy as the leap and cavort around the stage, using every spare inch. Highlights include a wonderful version of The Ramones’ Havana Affair. Throw Away Your Television, Give It Away and By The Way all sound absolutely fantastic and the sound mix is superb, with real depth and clarity throughout.

One way in which this disc stands out from other concert films is in the editing. The editors here seem to fully understand the medium and the editing reflects that. The cuts are all in time to the music, and the film really flows well. There’s a rhythm that ebbs and flows as the film progresses and the bullet-time thing, it has to be admitted, does work very well. It suits the band, these little hyper-kinetic movements, as they are all so active and the whole show is based around movement and motion anyway. You'll gasp as you zoom around a leaping Anthony Kieidis and a jigging Flea; it's an idea that could so easily have gone horribly and laughably wrong if overused.

As for the show itself, from what is presented here, it looks like this DVD is the best way of seeing it. The sound at an open air concert would never, ever sound this clear and you wouldn’t be able to see very much due to the huge number of flags present. Yes, flags look very good on TV, but if your stuck standing behind one, you might consider the TV aesthetics to be of slightly less value and happily murder the thoughtless unwashed who decided it would be a jolly wheeze to bring one. Ah, but it’s all about atmosphere, though...

This is a disc that comes highly recommended for any Chili Pepper fan. It’s a little too similar to their earlier concert film, Off The Map, though, so if you only dabble in them and already own that then it’s not really an essential purchase but for those that love them, they’ve probably ordered this already. It works as a live film because of the care in editing that is evident from the very start; the bullet-time thing is interesting, but little more than a novelty.

The Disc

The picture is absolutely stunning. Crystal clear and sharp as a pin; this is one that’ll look good on any size TV. Anamorphic, the colours are natural and bright without ever looking saturated. There is not a hint of any compression or artefacting or any of the other bad things that often crop up. Shot digitally, and it shows, you can almost smell the crowd. The next best thing to being there on stage.

Sound is equally good. It’s nice to see a stereo mix for the purists included, but you also get DTS and 5.1 to choose between as well. Whilst there isn’t much to choose between them, the DTS track has the slight edge. It’s used, of course, for audience reaction and it’s excellent as it swirls nicely around the room in time to the camera and it’s possible to get lost in the mix, as it were, it really is that good.

Some odd extras are included for your perusal. You get full screen versions of the graphics that were screened onstage at the concert and are given a choice of tracks to play over them. It’s a nice idea, but little more than a novelty. Still, better than a poke in the eye with a stick. There’s some pointless Easter Eggs as well; if you highlight the Chili Pepper logo on the track selection pages, you get taken to a drum solo and a guitar solo spot.

That track listing in full

By The Way

Scar Tissue

Around The World

Universally Speaking

Parallel Universe

Zephyr Song

Throw Away Your Television

Havana Affair


Purple Stain

Don't Forget Me

Right On Time

Can't Stop

Venice Queen

Give It Away


Under The Bridge

Power Of Equality

8 out of 10
9 out of 10
9 out of 10
5 out of 10


out of 10

Last updated: 26/06/2018 02:51:03

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