TVD Live Shots:
Live at Shepherd’s
Bush Empire, 6/30

Live made a triumphant return to the UK for the first time in almost a decade. Touring in support of the 25th anniversary of their magnificent 1994 release Throwing Copper, the original members of Live are back and sounding better than ever before.

The last time I saw Live was back in 1997 when the band was at their peak. Their highly anticipated third album Secret Samadhi was just about to be released and the band was touring intimate theatres debuting the music and playing nothing additional. This idea would be career suicide for any group in today’s confused musical landscape, but twenty years ago it was bold and made a certain statement of confidence that the new material was solid.

Lead by the hard-edged single “Lakini’s Juice,” Live had kept the mystique behind Throwing Copper while adding a harder edge to their sound which would showcase a third evolution of the band. The record debuted at number one the Billboard chart and went on to go double platinum, but it may have proved a bit too ambitious for the band. They would follow with The Distance in 1999 which would also achieve platinum status, but nothing would match the enormous success and mass appeal of Throwing Copper.

Hearing these songs live again reminds you instantly how many hits they did have and why they sold more than 20 million records. The setlist didn’t include anything from their debut album, and rightfully so. Throwing Copper is simply on another level. Few bands can take their songwriting and production to new heights in such a short amount of time. These guys did it all while upping the ante with a statement and a lot of mystique.

I couldn’t think of a better opener for the evening than the song that opens Throwing Copper. “The Dam at Otter Creek” set the mood perfectly for what was to come—straight into “Selling the Drama” as if they are going to play the album from start to finish, but then they slipped into “All Over You.”

Other highlights from the set included a stellar version of “The Dolphins Cry” and of course a “Purple Rain”-esque finale of “Lightning Crashes” which brought the sold-out crowd to a spirited sing-along to close out the evening. It was also surprising to have two covers in their set—R.E.M.’s “Losing my Religion” and the Stones classic “Paint it Black,” of which Ed refers to as one of those songs he wished he had written.

Although I’m a bit partial to Throwing Copper since it played such a pivotal role in my life, the band seem to be ready for lightning to strike—or crash—once again. The musicianship is back, the chemistry between Ed and Chad is back, and most importantly the aura that has followed the band since changing gears for Copper has returned.

I’m still astonished at how great these guys sounded, and I can’t wait to see them again. There’s an apparent demand for a band like Live in the world today, not only for the millions of fans who’ve adored them over the years but the ones who will discover the magic of Throwing Copper for the first time twenty-five years later.

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