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Friday, October 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Live Jams In Acoustic Sets

Joe Ehrbar Correspondent

Live Friday, Aug. 18, at The Gorge

A poor sound mix snuffed out the energy and power of Live’s performance Friday at The Gorge.

It wasn’t the band’s fault. Rather, blame should be placed at the feet of the people operating the sound system.

As soon as the unit embarked on its 90-minute set, it was clear something wasn’t right.

The drums boomed and splashed crisply and tightly. The bass pounded like a heavyweight boxer. And the vocals soared into the stars.

The guitars? The guitars were barely audible.

The band’s second song of the night “Selling the Drama” confirmed this. Like most Live tunes, the song sways between a soft, comforting melody and a climactic, liberating crescendo. Yet when the band was supposed to explode out of its jangly guitar chords into the monster chorus, it merely burped.

With a sound so heavily dependent on guitars, the magnitude of the band’s songs disappeared without the crunch.

At one point, the sound cut out altogether.

Even though this was out of the band’s control, most of Live’s set became drab and anti-climactic.

During the brief acoustic set, the quartet’s sound difficulties vanished.

This time, everything was in perfect balance.

Solo, singer/guitarist Ed Kowalczyk sang a beautiful rendition of “Dusted,” a song penned by indie rock genius Guided By Voices.

The rest of the band and a pedal steel guitarist joined him for two more acoustic songs, which included an urgent display of “Beauty of Gray.”

When the band plugged back in, the earlier problem hadn’t been fixed.

Guests PJ Harvey and Veruca Salt gave outstanding performances.

After marching on stage to Europe’s “Final Countdown” blaring over the public address system (it was meant as a joke), the four members of Veruca Salt charged through an opening slot of folk-tinged, dualguitar, dual-vocalist pop-punk.

Singer/guitarist Louise Post, who ruptured a disk in her neck only a month ago, also seemed to be suffering from an extremely horse voice.

Yet, her gruff vocals, often sounding like Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, complemented the band’s chunky, raw blasts of adrenaline.

Both Post and singer guitarist Nina Gordon executed one stunning hook after another with their tight two-part harmonies.

From lighting to music, Harvey clashed extremes during the set. Clad in a hot-pink unitard, the barely illuminated British singer put forth a jarring, yet endearing performance.

With her band laying the discordant, gothic foundation, Harvey and her haunting alto jolted, subdued, seduced, rebuked, stalked and punished the audience.

Staggering renditions of “To Bring You My Love” and “50 Foot Queenie” were highlights.

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