Boxette – the review
After so many years we finally get some of the elusive concert videos on DVD!
The Roxette (DVD) Boxette comes with four DVDs, but contains five previous releases. We get Sweden Live!, which is a live concert previously only released in Japan on LaserDisc (and VHS) and in South Africa on VHS. It was shown on Swedish TV twice, slightly edited. The concert is recorded in Halmstad, Örebro and Norrköping during the winter tour of 1988. We are treated with 10 tracks, almost certainly not the full concert, but that’s what we get since it is what was released in 1989.
The audio is great, stereo of course, but nevertheless great. The video isn’t bad at all, it’s similar to the LaserDisc, and much much better than the VHS. We get a lot of bleeding colors, mainly red, but also blue. That’s due to the cameras of the time, they had a hard time recording these colors simply. No big issue. What’s missing from this is the black and white footage, shot by Per, in between the songs and that’s sort of sad since it was rather funny.
Roxette is hungry and yet not known outside of Sweden. This is the tour that took a little detour in the spring of 1989, to Holland, Germany and a few other countries down in Europe. Nothing happened. Then.
We also get Look Sharp Live! on disc #1. “Live” is a bit of an overstatement since out of the nine tracks only three are live – “Dance Away,” “Cry” and “Paint” all recorded at Borgholm, Öland. As most of you know the original videos for “Dangerous” and “Listen to Your Heart” were recorded at Borgholm. The American video crew thought the castle was built just for this purpose… Anyway. The rest are the original music videos for the big hits from Look Sharp! plus a “video” for “Silver Blue,” and as a hidden track, the US 12″ remix of “The Look.” I don’t remember why this video was released, probably to keep the momentum going, and I’m also not sure if it was released in the US or not, but I do remember it was released in time for Xmas! Same thing here, much better video than the VHS, and the audio is crisp, especially the live tracks. Also it’s rather nice to finally have the music videos in decent quality.
Disc #2 is Live-Ism from 1992 (the sleeve states ’91 but yes, the concert itself took place in 1991), an obvious reference to its counterpart, the album Tourism. The Joyride tour shot in Sydney, Australia. 15 tracks are included on the disc, a few missing, but you need to consider that the running time of a LaserDisc is at most an hour per side, half if they’re uncompressed. It also includes the music video for “How Do You Do!” This concert is probably the least exciting of them all, and that has got to do with the original edit, not it being transfered to DVD. This was actually released on LaserDisc in the US, Europe and Japan! The only European LaserDisc of Roxette’s ever. Regular stereo, but a very nice sound as the other disc. The video is what it is. Likely it has been tweaked a little, and it’s the best it can be.
That leads us to disc #3, Crash!Boom!Live!, here renamed Crash!Boom!Bang! Live. This concert was shown on TV in South Africa, released on LaserDisc in Japan and VHS in the rest of the world. (Europe and South Africa mainly.) This is a great concert! Two guitarists, three if you count Per, two drummers and one hell of a set list. Due to rights Blondie’s “Hanging on the Telephone” is missing though, and also the intro – the Mission: Impossible theme. Probably the best tour they ever did. The sound here is the same as the others, great! Same with the video – as good as you can get it from these old TV-camera recordings.
Finally we have something that most of us thought was lost – the 2001 Room Service tour, which was cut short due to the World Trade Center attack on 9/11! The concert at the Globe in Stockholm, Sweden was webcast, yes webcast! The phone company Telenordia had two streams going for their subscribers, one for modem users and one for broadband. Broadband being 2.5 MBit in 2001! These were naturally ripped and shared, but not many had access to these back in the day. There’s a version on YouTube that’s been there for years and years, and that’s most likely the modem version since the video quality is downright horrible. The concert was also broadcast on the radio, but just half of it.
So what do we get here? Again, it’s as good as you can imagine, having been shot with digital video cameras in 2001. It has been altered from 4:3 to 16:9, the only concert that’s been changed, most likely due to it being digital. The audio is yet again surprisingly good, and the video is great, considering.
All in all, this DVD box set (Boxette, see what they did there?) is a must for any fan. Yes there’s been nagging about a BluRay box, but that would have been impossible with these sources. This is as good as we ever are going to get these, and frankly, they look more than OK on my 4K TV and sound great on my Sonos system. Warner has done a great job with the box, I know they’ve been working on it for years. There were a few more concerts I know they were hoping to release, but likely that fell on rights, the infamous Zurich concert for instance. The sleeve and the menus are made by Karl-Magnus Boske, the man who designed the Have a Nice Day series.
Get it while you can, it is limited.