Review Summary: A memorable effort that makes me wish the Fingers were playing together,still...
Hanging around with my girlfriend this week-end, on our way to Cihangir, we ran into this second hand record shop that does not really have the most satisfying collection. However, had some rare discs, like Powderfinger’s live record, among which i purchased without hesitating. Well that was a sunny day after an everlasting cold winter which made me feel like i was in Scandinavia (semi-depressed cause of the weather,like most of the scandinavians) and for a record collector like me, to find an out of print disc on that sunny sunday morning, just before breakfast… “i was releaved.”
I suppose every rock band with a fair long history has a live album, either a regular one or an unplugged. Hearing live versions of the songs they like, usually satisfies the fans, longing them to see the band live soon as possible. This is for those who have the chance though. For me, a resident of Istanbul, i don’t think I would ever have a chance to see these Australian Rockers live, even if they had not disbanded. Even though there are many live performances to catch in Istanbul, they are mostly mainstream. That’s why this live disc of Powderfinger means more to me, i suppose.
As for the record, this double disc album features two different live performances by Powderfinger, one of which is unplugged. First disc, recorded in a rather bigger (supposedly) venue, consisting of 14 songs. Checking out the album for the first time, I enjoyed the short acoustic session more, finding the band, the atmosphere and the crowd more inspiring.
The opening song, Rockin’ Rocks is a decent start to the show. Bernard is one of those front-men, who would not amaze you but never would disappoint either. His voice is smooth, calm and to me, it’s so emotional that anytime i listen to Powderfinger i get tense, think about my high school years and so… Well, after Rockin’ Rocks, the setlist flows, makes me think if i were among the crowd i would be in such a singing&screaming mood, a mood we are not unfamiliar with, however i would still annoy some of those who try to ‘listen’. Everything is so satisfying for me until Stumblin’. I don’t wish to mention the whole band failed to perform this fast paced song, but i believe a change in the melodies of the chorus of Stumblin’ was unnecessary. Either Bernard did it on purpose, for he feared he would stumble if he tried to sing the song with a high-octane (just like in the studio album) or he just wanted a change in the mood of the song. Moreover i felt an absence in backing vocals on punch-lines. Ironically, the only single from this recording had been Stumblin’, not surprisingly (proving me right) has failed the charts.
The pianocoustic performance of ‘These Days’ sounds like the quiet crescendo of this gig. As Bernard performs the song rather long, creates the anticipated amusing ‘live’ atmosphere. However, after ‘Rita’ the album lacks in keeping me concentrated, as the songs are kept longer, the band play alright but seem a little bit tired. ‘Like a Dog’ would fit better in the first half of the gig. I did not enjoy the song a lot, not because of the band’s poor performance but because of the importance of the last 3 songs of a regular concert. The exchange in Track no.3 or no.4 with ‘Like a Dog’ would make a better set-list, in my opinion.
The first disc has a predictable end with ‘My Happiness’. I expected the band to let the crowd sing the lyrics for it’s a crowd favorite activity… nevertheless an acceptable finale performance by Powderfinger.
I anticipated second disc more, for acoustic performances are raw, rare and more effective. It’s less conversation, less noise and more music. Acoustic performances need more rehearsals and a slight remix of the songs. Set-lists matter too, for some songs are so unpluggable and when tried, they might turn into a disaster.
Powderfinger, on this fairly (9 songs) long session, shows a memorable effort. Bernard keeps it positive during the gig and creates a rather entertaining atmosphere. ‘Love Your Way’ sounds perfect and makes me enjoy the catchy guitar riffs on the chorus more. ‘Waiting for the Sun’ turned out to be another well done acoustic cover by the band. During the song Bernard communicates with the crowd which is a rare thing to witness, judging from this two disc record. Even though I’m amazed by the acoustic performances generally, ‘How Far Have We Really Come’ is the highlight of this session. Considering the song is originally acoustic, it fits just right in this petit jam. Powderfinger ends this jam with ‘On My Mind’ with scattering dynamism. This cover version of the song sounds like a fast-paced country classic, makes you want to dance to it recklessly.
The double live record of Powderfinger is enjoyable, even though the first disc hardly meets the expectations, not giving very much of energy, the second disc alone, makes the album worth buying. Even if it only consists of 9 tracks, it not only serves one of the rarest acoustic performances of the band but also proves their harmony and dynamism on the stage. However I would expect the front-man Bernard Fanning to be more active on stage. For a band whose songs do not have the heaviest riffs or catchiest rhythms but emotion, needs more flaw on stage to keep the audiences in a better mood and to satisfy us, I suppose.