After a seven year hiatus, international rock band Live treated a packed Grand West Arena to a wall of nostalgic, 90s post-grunge that had audience members screaming and spilling beer all over their 40-something spouses and friends. The band in its 33rd year came out guns blazing with two drummers, two electric guitars and Ed Kowalczyk’s signature voice and massive vocal range (which he kept up impeccably for a solid two hours).
The band played a string of their hits including “I Alone”, “The Dolphin’s Cry”, “Run to the Water” and “Lightning Crashes” and included a fitting tribute to fellow grunge singer Chris Cornell on “I Am The Highway”. A beautifully stripped down version of “Heaven” from the band’s 2003 album had Kowalczyk alone on stage with his acoustic guitar singing Cape Town’s praises, “If Heaven doesn’t have Table Mountain, they can keep it!”
What was most impressive was the band’s musicality throughout their set. Insisting on playing all their instruments in real-time – in an era when most international (and nowadays local) bands are supremely reliant on computers and pre-programmed sequencing – ensured an impactful set. This was evident on one song that got off to a faulty start and required them to begin again with Kowalczyk extolling, “At least you know we’re actually playing live!” That alone was refreshing enough to keep me engaged throughout, seeing Live play live!
For all the talk of Live’s bad-blood prior to the reunion, one thing was clear: the camaraderie and unity felt tangible. With an incredibly powerful display of showmanship, sing-along hits and years of air-tight shows under their belt, Live rocked the roof right off.
The Cape Town leg of the Live Reunion Tour took place at Grand West Arena on 7 November 2017.