Live at the Paradiso – Amsterdam
Live hit the music scene at just the right time. Alternative was at its peak and bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains were raiding the airwaves, but most of the rock that was on the radio was negative and/or self-loathing.
Enter Live. Their brand of rock was lyrically less “woe is me” and more thought-provoking while the music was right in line with what was already saturating the radio at that time.
Now, over two decades after releasing their debut album Mental Jewelry Live has, strangely enough released their first live album and DVD. Live at the Paradiso – Amsterdam is like a live version of their greatest hits with two new tracks on the album and a little behind-the-scenes work on the DVD.
The album is essentially the DVD except they take out three of the live tracks: the forgettable “Mirror Song” and “Wings” and one of my favorite Live songs, “They Stood Up for Love.” I would have taken out the crappy closer “Dance With You” first. The album also has two new studio tracks. “Forever” is supposed to be the first single from their upcoming album, so it’s nice to be able to have that early, except that it sounds a lot like “Heaven” and the meandering mediocre rock/pop that Live has been entrenched in for the last two albums. They say that they are looking to resurrect their rock roots however, and if the other studio track “Purifier” is any indication, they have found those roots. Featuring Blues Traveler’s John Popper on a white-hot harmonica, Live burns through the song with an intensity that has not been heard since “I Alone.”
The DVD puts you front and center at the Paradiso and perfectly captures a live Live performance. The behind-the-scenes footage lacks substance however. There is a part where lead singer Ed Kowalczyk talks about how wonderful Dutch fans are and how they love to play at the Paradiso, but for the most part the footage is just them getting off of the airplane, going to the hotel and then leaving the hotel. Umm… I guess that’s neat and all if you’re a stalker. Once you get to the actual concert however, all is forgiven.
The band does a great job of keeping the crowd into the show. They rock the place with the opener “Simple Creed,” “The Dolphin’s Cry” and their very first single “Operation Spirit.” They also can keep the intensity on their slower and more contemplative tracks “Lightning Crashes” and “Turn My Head.” The best song on both the DVD and album is their cover of “I Walk the Line.” Kowalczyk explains that they were asked to do a cover for a Sun Records compilation and they could pick any song in their catalogue. Talk about a sweet deal. They not only chose one of the best possible tracks, but they have made one of the best covers that I have ever heard. Even if you are not a Live fan, you have to hear their version of this song. It is phenomenal.
If are a Live fan and have never been to one of their concerts (like me), then the DVD is a must. If you have been to one of their concerts, then the DVD and the album will still be another great addition to your collection. It proves that even after two decades, Live can still entertain and they still have a huge fanbase.