Live Brings It Down A Few Metaphysical Notches
Saturday, Sept. 13, the Gorge
When Live took the stage at the Gorge Saturday night, they did so with about half the crowd, half the security guards and half the volume of Rage Against the Machine the night before.
But what Live lacked in punch it nearly made up for in intimacy.
Singer and lead soul-searcher Ed Kowalczyk led the rock quartet through a set laden with mystical and metaphysical probing.
Whether genuflecting, hands over his eyes, in front of the crowd or hip-thrust strutting like an angry rooster, Kowalczyk consumed the stage.
His voice alternately earnest and quivering, growled and vitriolic, Kowalczyk belted out “Throwing Copper” hits such as “I Alone” and “Lightning Crashes” to a thrilled audience of about 5,000.
Four enormous torch-like pillars cast medieval shadows as the band worked through “Lakini’s Juice,” off their new album “Secret Samadhi.”
The song’s energy ebbed and flowed in crackling Live tradition, but newer songs such as “Insomnia and the Hole in the Universe” fell flat with an overburdened thud.
And although Live’s spiritual leanings can be endearing, they can also leave a pretentious aftertaste.
“Tonight is the kind of night I check in with my superiors,” Kowalczyk said, striking a holy pose, arms thrown wide and face skyward.
Whatever, dude. Get on with the music.
ManBreak opened the evening with a set this reviewer missed due to layering rain gear atop jackets atop sweaters atop long johns in the parking lot.
It’s a good thing, too.
By the time Luscious Jackson arrived on stage, their lovely tune “Water Your Garden,” had taken on special meaning. “I’m tired of the rain my love,” singer Jill Cunniff crooned as the sky hosed down the crowd.
Although their funk gave the crowd an excuse to sway and dance and - ideally - keep warm, Luscious Jackson’s grooves were more about liquid cool than bubbling heat - about breathing room instead of crowded spaces.
Loping bass lines propelled songs twined with funky waa-waa guitar and tasteful splices of sampling.
Although webbed with tambourines, keyboards and bongos, songs such as “Naked Eye” felt stretch-your-legs-out spacious rather than overdone.
However, at times, such simmer-down attitude felt a bit too mellow - a bit too album-like - for a crowd that clearly needed heat.