Tonight I was set to attend a sold-out performance by the band Live at the iconic O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London. Arriving late but ready to rock on arrival, the venue was crammed full and the buzz in the venue for Live to hit the stage was unreal. The feeling from the fans was a decent, friendly vibe and you felt like you were among friends. Everyone was looking after each other and being polite as we all had one thing in common: we’re here to witness a classic performance by a band that was essentially the soundtrack of the 90’s; Live.
I don’t know if it was the acoustics in the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, but as soon as the band hit the stage, the crowd erupted with an ear-blistering cheer as the blue lights came on. I sat in the press pit and enjoyed the band playing their first song in pure amazement, “The Dam at Otter Creek” from the album ‘Throwing Copper’ that has sold over 8 million records, was certified eight times platinum, and just celebrated its the 25th anniversary this year. I sat waiting for the lights to improve while enjoying this mellow intro to Chad Taylor gently playing that acoustic, rough sound while vocalist Ed Kowalczyk came in with a very smooth and clean vocal delivery. He was hitting high, head notes with ease and then, boom, the drums came in and the show got going at tremendous pace. Ed just returned to his rightful place as vocalist of the band in 2016. The band went on hiatus in 2009 and when they re-emerged in 2012 it was with Chris Shinn as the vocalist. Shinn performed with the band until Ed’s return in 2016. I have seen both vocalists front the band as of now, and Ed Kowalczyk is the one and only voice of Live. The songs without him lack passion, when he performs these songs the course through his veins and you feel every ounce of emotion during their performance.
The band treated us to a couple of covers: one was R.E.M’s “Losing My Religion,” which got the whole crowd singing along, and also a cover of “Painted Black” by The Rolling Stones. The audience stepped it up a level with not one person standing still and, in fact, sang louder than the band when Live played “Shit Towne,” also off of ‘Throwing Copper.’ The crowd even drowned Kowalczyk’s vocals out. Without a shadow of a doubt, for me personally, the stand out tracks were “Dolphins Cry” and “I Alone.” It just hit me deep hearing these two classics and took me back to simpler times as loads of good memories came flashing back. It’s amazing what music can do for you, so thanks, Live!
Just when I thought they couldn’t top themselves, Chad treated us to that chuggy riff to “Lakini’s Juice.” That rim shot ping from the snare drum matched with the driving bass drum which thumped straight through your body and shook this grade II listed building. Then to follow up with “I Alone” was superb. Google that if you can’t remember the song, because as soon as you hear it, you will be like, damn! So why not treat yourself and go buy the 25th anniversary edition of ‘Throwing Copper.’ And for you vinyl lovers, yes, it has been re-pressed.
You didn’t think this night was going to end without “Lighting Crashes” did you? Of course the band is saving their ultimate hit to close out the night. The band dedicated the song when it first released to a high school friend, Barbara Lewis, who was killed by a drunk driver in 1993. Like several of Live’s songs it truly expels raw emotion not only through the performance but the lyrical content as well. The song is mystical in the way it speaks about birth and death. If you grew up in the 90’s you likely know every word to this song, and it seems the sold out crowd knew all the words as well. It was one of the 90’s most memorable songs and those who were at the O2 that night got to bare witness the song being performed to perfection.
The whole night just went down as one of the best gigs I’ve attended so far this year, full of proper classic rock riffs and true musicianship which a lot of bands are missing right now.