A bit of a slight revisit this one, as thanks to the joys of preordering I’d been enjoying the downloaded tracks for a short while beforehand (and enjoying to the extent that I’d included this among my favourites of 2011). Thanks to the arrival of the 2xCD package that arrived yesterday as well as the arrival of a posh new pair of headphones (which comes with a free bottle-opener for reasons I’m not party to, nicely combining two of my favourite hobbies in one go nonetheless), I can ditch the digitals and pipe through something a bit more expansive.
Live albums are weird beasts at the best of times: even the most impressive and immersive recordings are just that – recordings. Strip away the physicality involved in actually being at a show, and it’s nigh-on impossible to replicate the experience, because almost all good and great shows are only partially about the performance itself. The portents were always going to be good for this particular one though – Twilight Singers frontman Greg Dulli knows exactly how to bring a performance to life, and his skills as bandleader, raconteur and general bon viveur are well suited to not just bridging the gap between stage and audience (every Twilight Singers show I’ve been to has felt like they’ve just turned up in your living room), but also concert hall to stereo. When Greg is facing his crowd, he’s doing this with the confidence of someone who knows exactly where he is (his local knowledge displayed at shows can be side-splittingly accurate) and what he’s doing; dipping in and out of a vast repertoire of cover version snippets and conversational asides safe in the knowledge that if he’s entertaining himself, then the rest of us will be having an absolute ball.
I’ll attempt to do something slightly different with this, as it’s certainly a slightly different release and as I’m pretty well-versed in the original recorded material (read here and here for a couple of examples) it feels a bit odd writing about them all over again, albeit in a different context. So, as context is king and all that, I’ll just knock up a list of what I think makes for any great live album based on a seemingly resolute criteria that has been passed down from generation to generation. Or, to put it another way, one that I seem to have arbitrarily knocked together for the sake of narrative.
Rule 1: The Cover Must Be Exciting
Rule 2: Bring Your Songs To Life
Rule 3: Involve Your Audience
Rule 4: Make The People At Home Sick With Jealousy
Rule 5: Leave Nothing Out