It’s recurrently said by Chokebore fans that the experience is even better in concert, because of the emotion, the tension, the presence, the relaxed attitude and the atmosphere generated by the band. Except for a few exceptions ( ‘Coat’ for example ), the audience silently and devotedly listen to the songs, heads up towards the darkly lit scene, searching for the details that will make the show a little different from the preceding one in their future memories. My mind is full of these unimportant facts which enhance the bliss of the remembering process : Christian falling from his seat, exhausted or clumsy, at the end of the second encore; Jon messing up with the opening of ‘Police’; Troy performing some kind of back somersault; Frank disposing cigarettes on his amp before grasping his bass, Christian replacing a cymbal in the middle of a song, Troy changing a D#m to an unnameable chord, etc…. And so the my major problem with this live album is the fact that it’s a blind listening. But nothing can be done about that so I’ll try to forget those unwanted blinders and work from memory (I am not asking for a DVD here…).
I will deal with the negative aspects of this live album that was recorded in
the French festival ‘La Route du Rock” in 2001. The fact that it is a
festival recording is important, it implies that there is a festival set list.
Sadly, one won’t find many of the live classics of Chokebore in here, no
‘Alaska’, no ‘Perfect Date’, no ‘Taste for Bitters’, no ‘One Easy
Pieces’, no ‘Foreign Devils on the Silk Road’, no ‘Coat’… The
tracklisting is essentially made out of the last album ‘It’s a Miracle’ (9
songs out of 15). Of course it’s rather logical regarding the fact that they
were in the middle of recording the album. On the other hand, a friend fan of
mine suggested that they did that so as to take advantage of the success of
‘It’s a Miracle’. Anyway, I believe they could have chosen extracts from
several live performances to build up a record that would please fans and
attract newcomers. Second problem : the fact that it is a whole concert implies
that the inevitable imperfections in sound or performance remain. For example,
someone is not in tune on ‘It could Ruin Your Day’, the bass is saturating
on ‘Thin as Clouds’, B Balthazar’s singing is not perfect all the time,
the overdriven guitars sometimes come in quite brutally.
not lest be judged.
cannot say that this record was a long awaited record because I have the
opportunity to see either Chokebore or B Balthazar live every six months or so. In fact, I
was rather afraid of buying it blindly like a stupid fan on the very first hour
of the day of release and then being called so by my friends who would claim to
be in control of their fan-attitude by not buying it. And then I didn’t find
the album in my favourite music store. Oh oh oh. It took me 6 days to walk my
ass to the Virgin megastore and buy it.
satisfaction : the prize (15€). Second satisfaction : the packaging is rather
nice, a patchwork of photographs, on stage and backstage. Surprisingly, the guy
(one of them?) who wrote the credits got messed up with which songs belonged to
which album. ‘Narrow’ is uncredited while ‘Geneva’ is attributed to
‘Taste for Bitters’. It is kind of funny and sad. It reminds me of B
Balthazar being unable to recall the name of one of his song during an
Flew Alone’ opens the concert. B Balthazar ‘s voice is fragile and reedy.
The Dm chord still has that same
effect on me, moving and exciting. ‘Snow’ noisy intro is somewhat
disorganized, for good or bad. We must keep in mind that these are draft
versions of the songs on ‘It’s a Miracle’. This is proved by the song
‘Tiny Boosters’ which is in fact ‘I’ll Save You’ with some lyrics from
‘Ciao LA’. There are only 6 reminders of the past, among the best : ‘Days
of Nothing’, ‘You are the Sunshine of my Life’ and ‘Valentine’. The
first is a full band version, much better than the album version, with Jon
adding sloppy guitar lines and overdrive. Down tempo self made pain. No words
need to be uttered when talking about the other ones, so just nod your head if
asked to. These are good versions. As usual, B Balthazar talks to the audience
from time to time, essentially to inform them that “this one is sad and
slow”. Ah ah ah.
is good, ‘Police’ is good, ‘I love the Waiting’ is good, no doubt about
that, but a few previously unreleased material would have made me happier and
the sticker on the album ‘Chokebore is the best live band, better than the
Pixies and Nirvana together’ is stupidly pompous, arrogant and vague since
these bands split. ‘A Part From Life’ is a good piece in spite of some
weaknesses, a ‘thank you fans’ record.
is out. I learned to cook yesterday and finally lost my kitchen phobia. Sausages
and beans, just like a western star. Whatever.
/oct 1st 2003/