Upon first hearing that Live was hitting Vancouver, I thought to myself,
“It will be great to hear the hits from THROWING COPPER and SECRET SAMADHI.” But
once I started researching for this show, I realized the nineties’ college/alt-rock
heroes had released FOUR studio albums since the last I had heard of them with
1999’s grossly underrated, THE DISTANCE TO HERE.
With the original lineup still in
place, I was curious how reliant the band would be on the two albums that made the
Pennsylvania veterans a household name in the mid- to late nineties with such
staples as “Lightning Crashes,” “All Over You” and “Lakini’s Juice.”
Never ones to really shine on the star radar (I defy anyone outside diehard Live
fans to even name another band member besides vocalist Ed Kowalczyk), a
still-unassuming Live hit the stage to throngs of people, like myself, in their
mid-thirties who undoubtedly had THROWING COPPER on near-constant rotation through
1995 and 1996.
Second guitarist (and brother of Ed) Adam Kowalczyk completed the
touring lineup with Chad Taylor (lead guitar), Patrick Dahlheimer (bass) and Chad
Gracey (drums) remaining from the original band. It is worth mentioning this lineup
has remained unchanged since the mid-eighties, which is no small feat, and while
Live’s place in the modern rock world may not be what it once was, this is still an
excellent group of musicians who are releasing viable music to this day.
To their credit, Live did a fantastic job of assembling a career-spanning setlist
stretching from 1991’s MENTAL JEWELRY up to 2006’s SONGS FROM THE BLACK MOUNTAIN.
Naturally, the hits were all here and garnered the biggest response but “Mirror
Song,” “The Dolphin’s Cry” and a darkly enigmatic cover of Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The
Line” were warmly received, as well. The gargantuan opening chords of “Lakini’s
Juice” still give me chills and “Lightning Crashes” (along with its creepy video)
remains a powerful ballad and the band’s best-known song. “Selling The Drama,” “All
Over You” and the stellar album cut, “Waitress,” showcased the finest moments of the
monstrous THROWING COPPER but SECRET SAMADHI was sadly underrepresented (no
“Rattlesnake” or “Turn My Head”?) and 2001’s V was completely omitted.
Surprisingly, a good deal of the crowd was familiar with the band’s newer material,
too, which had to make the band feel good knowing people weren’t there just to hear
THROWING COPPER played front to back.
Live has been off most music fans’ radars for the better part of a decade but you
wouldn’t know it based on the performance and turn out at this show, especially
considering the band played the area just nine months earlier.
It’s nice to see
that a band like Live still has the chops and drive to get out and play more than
just the hits because these guys always struck me as being above the MTV treacle
with classy albums that were lyrically thought-provoking and didn’t pander to the
trends. While they may not be churning out radio staples anymore, there is much to
be said for a band like Live that still carries a devoted fanbase with it long after
the mainstream press has considered them obsolete.