Review Summary: A satisfying way to celebrate 10 years of hard rock. It doesn't change the fact though that Chevelle is better discovered through their studio albums.
10 years seems to be “the thing to commemorate” when it comes to bands who have become staples in their genre of music. It’s a fitting milestone, lasting ten years is quite a feat. It means you’ve obviously done something right. In Chevelle’s case, it’s even more impressive they’ve managed to stay consistently strong throughout the decade. Any Last Words?
celebrates five solid albums from 1999-2009, and is rightly done in Chicago, their unofficial hometown (it’s really Grayslake, Illinois – I’m a bit of a keener).
What you have in this 14-song concert is nothing more than a satisfying performance from the band, a solid setlist, but nothing to write home about. Chevelle has always been much more straight-forward than Tool, the band they get referred to the most. With a progressive band like Tool
, there’s a lot more space to run wild, sneak in a few special “once in a lifetime” moments in the longer tracks to make the concert experience more memorable. For Chevelle, almost all tracks are compact and under 5 minutes, making the pace a little quicker from song-to-song. And that’s just what you get with Any Last Words?
; a no-bull***, all serious business, fast-paced run-through of the band’s spectacular discography. Pete Loeffler is not the kind of guy who is going to do something off-the-wall at a concert; he simply prefers to keep the mood much more intimate and serious. He is not a showman.
It’s for this reason I find it ironic that while Pete never improvises in terms of the style of concert he runs, he insists on improvising wherever he can in his performance. Maybe it comes with getting bored of playing the same tunes at every concert for ten years, but on many of the singles played, Pete simply cannot mimic the voice he has in studio. In some tracks, he almost refuses to. This was the one aspect of the concert that frustrated me most, the times when his voice simply got too out of sync with the song. This was done by adding a scream where there wasn’t a scream before, lacking a scream when it was absolutely needed, and shredding the guitar when it would just REALLY be better to play the riff as it’s supposed to be played. The weak link was surprisingly the very person that is the life of the band.
The other two on an individual basis were much better. Sam Loeffler has always been stellar in any live performance I’ve witnessed. He comes to the concert ready and is almost flawless on the drums. “Sleep Apnea” is the song that he shines the brightest on here, the almost militaristic drumming is intense. Dean, the bassist, also delivers a perfectly acceptable performance. The one thing (and I don’t think it’s his fault) was how soft his voice was. Pete would back off the mic, hoping for Dean to step in at points, and for some reason the volume was just horrible. Dean was so quiet on “Jars” and “Shameful Metaphors” it was as if lines were being forgotten or skipped.
The highlights of the concert seemed to be the songs that actually weren’t released as singles. To my amazement, Chevelle played one my favorite songs “Sleep Walking Elite”, a bonus song off Vena Sera
. I think the band shined on the non-singles simply because they aren’t played often enough for the band to tire of them. “Get Some” and “An Evening with El Diablo” were brilliantly executed, the latter with a nifty added breakdown later on in the song that ended up being the only time I felt they outperformed themselves compared to the studio release. Chevelle also came through exactly at the moment that really mattered, the bridge in “Send the Pain Below” is one of their best and angriest moments, and here they nail it.
Overall, the concert had a very clunky and awkward start. I do understand why they simply had to choose “Antisaint” to kick the concert off. It makes sense because it kicked off the first album with Dean as bassist and ultimately the band as it is currently. However, the opener and following song “Jars” were both muddied up royally due to Pete’s shaky voice. After this though, you can tell Chevelle shook off their nerves and warmed up to the crowd a bit more because the rest of the concert was solid. Compared to their other live offerings, Any Last Words?
is definitely a stronger candidate. I just simply cannot recommend anyone get to know Chevelle through their live performances though, better to stick to the studio albums because it’s truly where the band stands above the rest of all other hard rock bands.
Sleep Walking Elite, Sleep Apnea, An Evening with El Diablo
Antisaint, Shameful Metaphors, The Red (seriously, they fuck
ed this song up)