Post-punk miracle workers report from the road – for the first time in two decades.
Perhaps, not a perfectionist, this band’s mainstay Bobby Hecksher admits to not liking concert documents, yet on the cusp of the American ensemble’s twentieth anniversary one of their Swiss shows was preserved for posterity. A brilliant recording on all counts – if that’s the way to describe the thick, foggy sound of the group conjuring belligerent demons from the past and bringing those lost souls up to date, so it’s not a concidence the quintet deliver a good part of “Phoenix Album” on-stage here. It’s about time they rise from aural ashes and shine.
If there’s psychedelic hope in “The Midnight Sun” to add hue to the purple haze of “Red Camera” and other expansively plangent missives where guitars meander arrestingly in hypnotic, hypnagogic even, patterns, the collective’s vision is clear on the rhythm-and-blues likes of “Shake The Dope Out” and “The Dope Feels Good”: riffs to the fore, they come alive in front of the audience, as does upbeat jangle carrying “Dead Generation” into the rainbow-eyed future. Dipped in the ’60s tradition, “Baby Blue” may catch post-punk crowd off guard, although it’s “Lonesome Bulldog” that seems to elicit the most enthusiastic response from the punters, while the squeal behind “Chameleon” is as irresistible. Of course, one can’t go wrong with anthems such as “Caveman Rocks” but emotional openness of “Zombie Like Lovers” is truly amazing: Hecksher’s wizards shouldn’t be perfect to perform miracles, after all.