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Live ...Rocks The Bay * 10/19/San Francisco Live at the San Francisco Fillmore
Edward Joel Kowalczyk- Lead Vocals, Guitar--- Chad David Taylor- Guitar, Vocals- Patrick Michael Dahlheimer- Bass Guitar--- Chad Allen Gracey- Drums and Percussion

......Live's music can still surprise us. My mistake was coming in and expecting something on the level of Throwing Copper (their best and a highly underrated album).And the big surprise at Live's performance at the Fillmore in San Francisco was there new songs from "The Distance to Here" "The Dolphin's Cry" is classic Live, simple and kicks you in the ***. But more of the subtler songs like "Face and Ghost", and "Dance with You" are what make this album great. "They Stood Up for Love", "Run to the Water ", "The Distance and basically every other song on this album are great and it gels so well, they have come back down to earth; finding inspiration again in melody and leaving overkill behind. For all the talk of spiritual quests in the Pennsylvania band's lyrics, Live has rediscovered the simple joys of connecting emotionally with an audience. In recent years, even a surprise show at a small club left live looking and sounding distant, making music that failed to connect on a human level. The band's 1997 "Secret Samadhi" album focused hard on issues of spirituality and existentialism, but the themes were buried beneath overblown guitars and pointless howling. Live's new "The Distance to Here" explores similar subjects, but this time pomposity has given way to real emotion. Standing shirtless and with a shaved head, singer Edward Kowalczyk still showed a weakness for high-volume melodrama on Thursday, but this time it was buffered by a new commitment to crisp song structure. The band's performance of the new "Sparkle" was built on explosive vocals, grinding guitars and no sludge. Live also performed a straight-ahead rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine," prompting fans to sing along and sway in the aisles. With some distance now from their early-'90s popularity peak, the members of Live sound more relaxed and less labored. That's a sign of creative growth, and maybe a first step toward transcendence.

By Randy Cohen

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