Live albums = marmite. My mind is firmly made up on the matter in that I rarely see the point. Live video/DVD/BluRay I can understand to a degree as it gives people the opportunity to see what a band they haven’t had the opportunity to witness on stage, but live albums rarely intrigue me. Apparently this show was filmed for a DVD release but the footage was misplaced. Doh! So here we have it, the live album.
So, why do I dislike live albums? Well I shall consider a number of points in turn…
Firstly, the sound quality is rarely comparable to the studio recordings so new listeners would be better starting with the studio output, though there are rare exceptions to this rule. ‘Live at Alexandra Palace’ does sound good. It is not as crisp or punchy as the their studio albums but the bass is weighty and you can hear all the contributions of the band members. The sound is very well captured though crowd and venue noise is minimal which may dispel the atmosphere for some listeners.
Secondly, live albums rarely offer anything in terms of material that would appeal to anyone other than the diehard fan. In many cases you pay to are paying for similar yet inferior versions of tracks you already own. In this case, this is a tougher one to call, but I find the jury sides with Enter Shikari. A narrator of sorts introduces the band and pops up throughout, making the gig feel more like a journey, and alternative versions of some of their songs are played, including the fantastic Anaesthetist as remixed by Reso. So, this album will add something unique to the Enter Shikari completest. Hats off to them.
In ‘Live at Alexandra Palace’ we have an album which sounds good enough to serve as an introduction to the band for the uninitiated, certainly interesting enough for the casual Shikari fan to investigate and, I’m sure, good enough for a completest to consider it essential.
Almost as divisive are Enter Shikari themselves. Throughout their career they have had legions of loyal fans but an equal measure of ‘rave metal’ haters.I grew up enjoying and indeed being part of the industrial music scene which mixes electronics and aggression in hard to equal ways. I also grew up listening to insane amounts of metal and a fair bit of rave and techno. On first hearing about Enter Shikari I was intrigued but ultimately left a little cold. As their career has progressed I have been increasingly impressed by their output as they have forged a sound that more successfully blends the synths, electronic drums and their metal elements. In ‘Live at Alexandra Palace’ we have an album which sounds good enough to serve as an introduction to the band for the uninitiated, certainly interesting enough for the casual Shikari fan to investigate and, I’m sure, good enough for a completest to consider it essential. The recording displays a band at the top of their game, delivering a heartfelt and passionate set that includes fan favourites old and new. Whether you’re a hater or a lover, this release is worthy of investigation.