02 July 2019

+LIVE+ – Gig review – Shepherds Bush Empire , London – 30.06.19


Gig review – Shepherds Bush – 30.06.19

In 1994 Tony Blair , Bill Clinton & Boris Yeltsin were in power & Nelson Mandela became the first Black President of South Africa. The World Cup was won by Brazil in the USA , Schindler’s List swept the floor at the Oscars , untold horrors were happening in civil wars in Serbia & Rwanda yet the media preferred the OJ Simpson car chase & the suicide of Kurt Cobain . Also 25 years ago Woodstock ’94 took place in the August to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the original & on that bill were +LIVE+ , who just released their 2nd LP , Throwing Copper in the April of the same year. The Woodstock ’94 appearance & well timed TV performances brought huge coverage to the band’s new album which became their most successful & reaching the top spot in the US album charts.

The downside of releasing such an album is making a follow up, a dilemma, even the greatest have faced. The two subsequent LP’s were really strong  & one of these gave the band their most famous & commercially successful single , the dolphin’s cry, however Throwing Copper is a standalone rock statement. It is simply a masterpiece & not only became an instant classic of Americana Indie rock , propelling them into the big league but became their legacy to the world.

+LIVE+ , originally from York, Pennsylvania consist of drummer & the first of two Chad’s  , Chad Grace , Bass player Patrick Dahlheimer with Chad Taylor on lead guitar both the latter were sporting similar facial growths , shades and hats , as if in homage to Texas finest little o’ band . Lead singer Ed Kowalczyk completes the four. The band formed in the mid 80’s & settled with the current name in 1991 when they released their debut LP followed over the decades with 6 subsequent  long players , the last being in 2006. But it is Throwing Copper , with the distinctive artwork entitled Sisters of Mercy by painter Peter Howson that is their most defining & best known.

A quarter of a century on from the release of Throwing Copper, +LIVE+ have broken away from a current co-headlining tour with fellow Alt Rockers BUSH for a solo whistle stop tour of Europe to showcase the milestone, & their only UK show was at Shepherds Bush’s 116 year old Empire theatre to a sold out 2080 souls.

Support was from a young four piece called Colliers , who , I will be honest knew nothing about. Their short set was lively & they did a sterling job. Their guitarist celebrated his birthday on stage, which is not a bad memory to have. There is a lot to be said for an angry drummer & overzealous headbanging guitarists in dodgy shirts . They had a great time & hopefully things for them will go from strength to strength.

The headliners 17 song set contained 8 songs from Throwing Copper , including the set opener The Dam at Otter Creek and closer Lightning Crashes. These bookended 90 minutes of quality songmanship , I Alone was stunning. However the set also surprisingly including 2 covers , the ‘Stones Paint it Black  & REM’s Losing my religion. With the former Ed forgot a line but improvised with an apologetic “Sorry Mick”, the other , a strange choice for everyone bar the band & for this reviewer the low point which could have been replaced by one of their own from their extensive back catalogue.

For touring purposes the original four members were joined on stage by both a percussionist & an additional guitarist Zac Loy who was a joy to watch & a name to remember.

Ed Kowalczyk’s voice seemed frail initially but grew as the set progressed & by the end of the evening was in fine fettle to the point of being bombastic & although close to 50 couldn’t help pop out his toned torso putting to shame many a man 20 years his junior . The crowd in the pit jumped & when the band fired on all cylinders the whole of the old Empire throbbed. Two acoustic numbers at the closing end brought a full sing-along from the faithful, which for any artist must be something to cherish & this genuinely appeared to be the case.

 It was fair to say that +LIVE+ have been away from these shores for far too long & hopefully they will return soon. Tonight’s all too brief UK show was something to savour , the whole of Throwing Copper in its entirety may have been too much to hope for but 8 out of the original 13 songs was good enough & cemented what we already knew , that is, how good +LIVE+ are live.

Set List

  1. The Dam at Otter Creek

  2. All Over You

  3. Selling the Drama

  4. Losing My Religion – (REM cover)

  5. The Distance

  6. Shit Towne

  7. Iris

  8. They Stood Up for Love

  9. The Dolphin’s Cry

  10. Paint It Black – (Rolling Stones cover)

  11. Lakini’s Juice

  12. I Alone

  13. White, Discussion

  14. Heaven (Ed acoustic solo)

  15. Turn My Head (Ed acoustic solo)

  16. Run to the Water

  17. Lightning Crashes

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Photos taken with an iphone