May 23, 2006

Live in Concert (or, the fine art of preserving your musical credibility by keeping your shirt on)

I got to see Live in concert on Friday night in Denver, at the Paramount Theatre (which is a very cool venue, but I have to say the Paramount in Oakland will always be my first love!).

My sister and I were saying that we are kind of glad that many folks seem to have forgotten about Live (the venue was rather intimate, at only about 1500 people) because I still think they rock as hard as some of the bigger names from the ’90s, like Pearl Jam, with some great quality songs and a unmistakable soaring voice from lead singer Ed Kowalcyzk.

Live has a new CD coming out in June (or already out for you non-USAers), Songs From Black Mountain. They performed several songs off of it, and overall it seems like a strong return to melodic/anthemic form from their albums past (my two favorite are Throwing Copper and The Distance To Here) after forays into the world of rap-rock with albums like V (“Deep Enough” was a debacle I never want to see repeated: “Does he run it deep enough – yeah – to take you there?” Thanks, Ed, for your compassion for my well-being.)

As they worked their way through some of their older songs, I was reminded of how much I love them and how much I listened to them in high school. Here were some of the highlights from the setlist:

Iris (off Throwing Copper, my sister rightly commented that this song is the audio equivalent of a heart attack)

Mirror Song (from Mental Jewelry, their 1991 debut)

Heaven (this is really a great song, the closest you’ll get to church at a rock concert, with lyrics that I think are undeniably true. From 2003′s Birds of Pray.)

They Stood Up For Love (This was one of the best songs off of The Distance To Here)

Run To The Water (they did NOT play this one, but we kept wishing they would, so I will throw it on here as wishful thinking. Also from The Distance To Here)

And new ones from Songs From Black Mountain:

Mystery (a striking song, which they will apparently be playing on the American Idol finale tomorrow night) and Wings

(to hear “The River,” which I love, see this post)

Now about the title of this post. The most disturbing aspect of the show, for me, was lead singer Ed Kowalcyzk‘s over-the-top sexual posturing, swaggering, crotch-gesturing, and general badass-act. This is a far cry from the wispy, sensitive unibrow man who we first met in 1991. Yes, okay, you’re fairly cut and sweaty. That does not mean I want to see your navel as you sing “Show me your love…” I found Ed to be a distraction from the music, ESPECIALLY at the end when he actually removed his fitted tank top and performed the last song and both encores shirtless, often while thrusting his crotch in my general direction.

Yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about. My sister made the observation that his nipples were tiny, and looked like they were drawn on with a felt tip marker. So then I just couldn’t stop looking at them and it was just all bad. Bad, bad, I tell you.

But the music itself was stellar.

Some pics thanks to Brian and Viki.

Tagged with , .


  • There’s a rumor that they’re playing on American Idol tonight or tomorrow night. You’ll have to tune in and see his tiny nipples!

    Anonymous — May 23, 2006 @ 2:55 pm

  • How awful would that be if he stripped down on Idol? Then we could all see the tiny nipples. Unless, of course, he accidentally leaves his felt-tip marker at home.

    heather — May 23, 2006 @ 2:59 pm

  • did like, every song they played have some sort of reference to water? they seem to be rather fond of it. cool that they rocked.

    jeffro — May 23, 2006 @ 4:09 pm

  • Like comedians, musicians seem to lose perspective when they get muscular. Exempted is Henry Rollins, who was always big and always kinda weird, though in a good way.

    Think Joe Piscopo, only in a band, ad you have this Ed guy’s career arc. Now, scientists always keep it real, even if we look fantastic in a t-shirt.

    Chief Scientist — May 23, 2006 @ 5:58 pm

  • rumor is that ed is hung like a horse though. 10 inches.

    Anonymous — May 23, 2006 @ 6:22 pm

  • I’ve seen Live 4 times now, and the tour for Distance To Here was one of the coolest shows I have ever seen – but after “V” I lost interest. “Birds of Pray” had its moment (s), but “Songs From Black Mountain” – or at least the pirate copy I have – was awful (though not as embarrassing as “V”). thanks for your concert review. Maybe when my wife drags me to see them this year, I’ll get some nice nipplage to make it all worthwhile.

    aaron. — May 23, 2006 @ 6:43 pm

  • When he slowly stripped off his shirt near the end of the concert, I felt like I was watching a Chippendale’s act and that I should rush the stage while flinging out my own breasts. Thank god I chose, instead, to look down and shake my head. But, in spite of the shirtlessness, it was an awesome, awesome concert. I don’t think I’ve been so crazy-screaming-sweaty since I saw Soundgarden in high school. Live is still a spectacularly talented band, and I am looking forward to their next album.

    Your Sister — May 23, 2006 @ 9:48 pm

  • Thanks, sis, for keeping the breasts safely contained. That would have been kind of awkward.

    heather — May 23, 2006 @ 9:50 pm

  • The new Live CD ‘Songs from Black Mountain’ is available on iTunes right now – I’ve not purchased it yet, but it’s there.

    I’ve seen Live in concert many times, the best was a few days after SS was released in Chicago’s Riveria Theater. At that point, they were playing with an intensity that awed me. The last time I saw them, I felt like they were each playing some part in a play. Chad Taylor was wearing some hip-hop looking outfit with a mohawk, and Ed was at the beginning of his Chippendales career. They sort of lost me. Anyway, I could go on and on but I won’t.

    Anonymous — May 24, 2006 @ 8:37 am

  • i have never been into these guys. that “drawn-on” nipple story cracked me up, tho. there you go wth those details again, heather!

    c — May 24, 2006 @ 9:58 am

  • Had tix to see Live once but they canceled the show b/c they’d only sold about 600 advance tix in a 3000 or so capacity venue. I’m told they used the time to shoot a video instead. This was ’99 or ’00, I guess, while I was in college. I still hold a grudge.

    Rich — May 24, 2006 @ 4:08 pm

  • I used to be huge in to Live, but I’ve kind of lost interest in them. A lot of people didn’t like V, but I really dug that sound. Secret Samahdi is probably my favorite of their’s, which I suppose means I have bad taste.

    Your post reminded me of some of the great songs they have. “They Stood Up For Love” is amazing, and I agree with you on “Heaven,” even if I’ve had plenty of other church-like rock and roll experiences (U2, Springsteen, Prince, etc).

    Matt Gilmour — May 24, 2006 @ 10:52 pm

  • “My sister made the observation that his nipples were tiny, and looked like they were drawn on with a felt tip marker.”

    That’s the first time I’ve laughed out loud at something I read on a blog in a looooong time. Thankee.

    marathonpacks — May 25, 2006 @ 7:30 am

  • I haven’t heard anything from Live since Throwing Copper, and still think that their debut, Mental Jewelery, is their best record.

    Eric — May 28, 2006 @ 12:40 pm

  • I liked Live off their first record, when they were spouting all that liberal gobbly gook in their lyrics. What happened to all that stuff?

    The “Beauty of Gray” was great while doing my “Womens Studies” term paper.


    Tim — May 31, 2006 @ 1:10 am

  • Live used to be one of my favorite bands… every record up until V was great. I was a Live-hed, and saw them 7 times from 1997 until 2001.

    Then they got too big for their own good, and their songwriting took a drastic turn for the worse. They still haven’t recpatured any of the magic that made their first 4 albums so good.

    They seem to have turned into a Journey-type band, which is disappointing to me (nothing against Journey, they’re just not my thing).

    Hope the new one is a return to form…

    F.J. Delgado — May 31, 2006 @ 2:20 am

  • great post!. but links are dead. maybe you can re-up them?

    Sebastián Gómez Morales — August 16, 2008 @ 1:40 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

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