By P Blood
Let me just be straight forward from the start and tell you, I am not a huge fan of live albums. Usually the quality isn’t as good as that of a studio album, and any deviation from the studio version of a track kind of annoys me.
Why commit a song to record if you’re just going to fuck with the arrangement whenever you feel like? It’s stupid and cuntish. It should only be done when it’s a vast improvement, in which case it should have been recorded that way in the first place.
That being said, I can appreciate a good live album, but it has to meet a lot requirements for me.
First the set list has to be right. A bunch of so-so hits and some lesser known tracks aren’t going to cut it. You need fucking crowd pleasers pretty much from start to finish.
The crowd interaction and banter between songs, if it has to be on there, has to be awesome. A front man saying, “You might know this one…” or “This is bleh off shmeh album” and lengthy applause smacks of cheese. What is preferable is if all you hear is a count from the drummer into the next track.
Finally, but not entirely an iron clad rule, the album has to be from an iconic moment in the band or artist’s history. You can almost instantly tell when the band is not on form, or if it was just another concert performance in a long list of concert performances. Johnny Cash’s Live from Folsom Prison wasn’t just another country fair. He was in a fucking prison, playing to inmates about doing drugs and killing people and freedom. Historic is always better. Royal Albert Hall sessions on the other hand, are bullshit.
Let’s put aside the fact that Robert Smith is a thousand years old and still dressing like a bloated, sad teenager, looking like a tranny that crawled out from under a bridge after a particularly rough night of hooking and smoking crack. All the deep throating and burning fumes from the pipe hasn’t hurt his singing much. He’s on key most of the time for the two and half hour concert.
What possessed the old leaders of the New Wave to put together this two disc rehash of gloomy synth-pop? This poking at the corpses of their once-upon-a-time goth kid fans, as they come out and sway in unison to the melodies of lost love and general melancholy? The young people of the Isle of Wight… Pretty sure there is some irony in there somewhere.
You’ll find almost all of their staple big hits – Boys Don’t Cry, Fascination Street, Friday I’m in Love, the list goes on… Although you might be pressed to recognise the bigger hits instantly, because it’s not quite the version your local hipster 80’s revival DJ plays. It doesn’t annoy me enough to throw the album out completely though.
Most of my dealings with The Cure come from having terribly indie friends, who I mock mercilessly for liking the cheesiest goth-pop band in history. After I berate them close to tears, I make it up to them by admitting that I am partial to a few of The Cure’s better songs.
Plainsong, the opening track, is easily their best song off their most acclaimed album. It’s one of the tracks people will play at end of the world, and feel morbidly content with the misery of it all. They might even deem it appropriate to crack a sad smile. Sickening, isn’t it?
If you listen to any of those modern post-punk inspired bands – wait, any of the moody indie rock you listen to, and think is really cool – they probably owe a debt of thanks to these fat old goths. If you’re unversed, then get Bestival Live 2011. It’s a great balance of their commercially successful hits and the less commercial but still worthy songs in a neat two disc package… and it’s for the kids.
Suffering from an inexplicably large ego and ignoring common courtesy, Mr P. Blood indulges his opinions about whatever comes to his cesspool of a mind, and strangely people don’t seem to hate him for it. Making him a writer, of sorts.