DVD review: U.S. Festival 1983 Days 1-3

US Festival 1983 Days 1-3

Wienerworld [Release date 27.01.14]

It’s weird how when you look back at this footage, just how young everyone looks, yet when you look in the mirror that same youthful young man looks back at you (well, maybe not).

The U.S. Festivals were two early 1980s music and culture festivals sponsored by Steve Wozniak, formerly of Apple.  The first was held Labor Day weekend in September 1982 and the second was Memorial Day weekend in May 1983.

This DVD delves into the archive footage of the latter event, digitally re-masters and restores it and captures the highlights that include The Clash’s final performance with Mick Jones and U2 performing Sunday Bloody Sunday as part of a global 3 day event attended 2 million, yes 2 million fans.  The story is told principally by Wozniak and VJ Mark Goodman (which, frankly, involves an uncomfortable amount of self-congratulation).

The highlight is undoubtedly a young mullet attired Bono, scaling the 50 foot stage gantry and belting out The Electric Co without so much as a downward glance.  Along with Sunday Bloody Sunday it’s a wow moment.  But guess what, it’s broken up by Goodman’s talking head.  A travesty.

Stevie Nicks is also captured at the height of her solo performance powers and her appearance is equally prematurely curtailed.  But despite the ‘re-mastered and restored’ claims the footage simply bolts together 3 made for TV programmes (complete with credits) without so much as a nod towards widescreen.

Yes, there’s some great performances, but this DVD has been put together on the cheap.  At best it’s of historical interest – a period of mullets, when Bono hadn’t discovered shades, when breasts jiggled naturally, and when The Edge and Rob Halford weren’t follically challenged.  And it’s nice to see some rare footage of Quarterflash (whatever happened to Rindy Ross?) but the diversity of talent on offer gets cut far too short.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

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