Live: Live at the Paradiso Amsterdam

Kyle Deas

Alternative rockers Live drop in from the '90s to bring us a long-awaited live album. The only question: Who exactly has been waiting for it?


Live at the Paradiso Amsterdam

Label: Vanguard
UK Release Date: 2009-01-05
US Release Date: 2008-11-11

Live are nothing if not persistent. Born during the grunge boom of the early '90s, the band first achieved success with their 1994 album Throwing Copper, mostly on the strength of the mega-hit "Lightning Crashes". (If you're younger than fifteen, you will probably only recognize the song from Buzz Ballads commercials.) In 1997, Live released their follow-up album Secret Samadhi, which sold millions of copies before people got embarrassed about owning an album with a song called "Lakini's Juice" on it. Live might (should?) have died there, but in 1999 they released The Distance To Here, which sold even more copies than its predecessors had. If all that wasn't enough, they also scored a minor hit with "Heaven" in 2003 -- long after most people had forgotten they ever existed.

Now, Live gives us a new live album called, yes, Live At The Paradiso -- an album, they say, that has been fifteen years in the making. But that begs the question: Who actually cares about Live anymore?

Apparently, the answer is: Europeans. While Live's popularity statewide has waned, they have never gone out of vogue across the pond, and the crowd at the Paradiso show certainly is enthusiastic. Indeed, the album sleeve chronicles just how crazy the show was, with lead singer Ed Kowalczyk's state of dress as a barometer. In the first picture, he's sporting a snazzy black button-down. By the next, the front has come open, exposing a chest as hairless as his shiny head. In the final picture, the shirt has disappeared, leaving Kowalczyk sweaty and bare-chested and, presumably, in total awe of his own ability to rock the fuck out.

The shirt thing is actually indicative of the larger problem with Live At The Paradiso, and indeed with Live itself: They're still acting like it's 1995. No evolution in their sound has occured whatsoever. They have the same vaguely spiritual lyrics, the same falsetto-heavy vocals, the same crunchy-but-bland guitar riffs. And in the same way a man approaching forty should think twice about shucking his shirt in public, a band should think twice about releasing an album that sounds this dated.

Of course, Live isn't really trying appeal to a new fan base. They're trying to please the fans they have left. It's tough to imagine, though, this album will do that. Kowalczyk's voice betrays his age: His yelps and screams, which always seemed to come naturally, now sound forced and a little painful. The songs are all identical in structure to their studio counterparts, so unless you like every song you hear to have at least one chorus sung by drunk Dutchmen, there's not much to recommend here.

It's tough to begrudge Live this album. After all, who wouldn't want, fifteen years in, to hold on to the vestiges of past fame? But it looks now like Live has perhaps been a bit too persistent -- they've even outlasted their fans.






'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.


Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".


PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.


Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.


Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.


Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.


Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.


Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.