I deserve a little more

Concerts can be puzzling events. It seems like more and more these days people expect a show to sound just like an artist's albums. If they dare veer even slightly off course, you're sure to hear comments afterward that the show "sounded weird." Apparently people want the exact experience of listening to a CD in their living room except that there's also some guy in tight pants prancing around.

At the other end of the spectrum are the jam bands. For them albums are just a rough draft. A few short thoughts that will undoubtedly serve as a springboard for 15 minute guitar and bongo solos during a live show. The audience is prepared for these journeys and is usually too stoned to notice the guitarist has been playing the same note for five minutes. Hey, it's a niche, but I'm not sure it's any better musically than the band that sounds exactly like their studio releases.

A handful of bands fall somewhere in between these two categories. They know people want familiar songs, but they're not afraid to take them a little off the beaten path. So that brings me to today's album, a live double album by Counting Crows called Across a Wire: Live in New York City.

The albums are actually recordings of shows taped for Mtv and VH-1, one electric and one acoustic. Live shows for television sound like they could be pretty stultifying but the Counting Crows manage to avoid that trap. With just the right amount of reworking of songs and the odd added lyric, they make only two album's worth of studio material sound fresh. I don't own many live albums and I listen to them even less, but the acoustic disc from Across a Wire has always gotten pretty heavy rotation on my stereo.

On a final note, if you're ever presented with the opportunity to see Counting Crows live, you should go. Even if you're not a huge fan of their music, I think you'll appreciate just watching them put on a show. These guys are great live and it's a beautiful thing to see.


Summer said...

I converted several people to CC fans by dragging them to a show... it's such a great feeling to help them realize what they've been missing all this time. I've seen them 3 times I think and can't wait to see them again. it's always a blast.

I don't actually have this album but now I think it's going on my xmas list. Thanks Declan! :-)

Declan said...

Any time, babe.