night, round ten
This is supposed to be the document which
marks You Am I as the Australian Live Band of the '90s,
and while there's little here to disprove the band's claim
to the title, there was never much chance of getting the
true atmosphere of a You Am I show to tape. At least this
is evidence that it wasn't all shimmying, windmilling, beer
swilling and acerbic repartee. Nor did Tim Rogers get by
on X factor alone. Instead wear here a rock band at its
best - the playing is tight when necessary, fast and loose
the rest of the time, the communication between members
is absolutely instinctual, and the guitar cuts through with
tone to burn.
It's also a great perspective on the band's
musical history. Between tracks three and four ("Jaimmie's
Got a Gal" and "Stray") we get to join the
dots that plot the band's slow evolution from rough and
ready from-the-hip rock band to self-aware (perhaps too
much so, many would argue) pop rock completists. The best
news is when you throw them all together, special instrumental
additions aside, the three-piece line up sound and the ever
present energy become great levellers. There is a cohesive
thread, R&B with rock/roots swagger and a sharp tongue.
There are no surprises - the Bo Diddley
improv gee-up Rogers offers before "Stray"; the
funk workout intro and breakdown to "Minor Byrd";
the pedal steel counterpoint on an upbeat reworking of "Heavy
Heart". And the concluding "How Much Is Enough"
remains a crowning moment. Live albums are often a tough
call, especially one coming from a band which routinely
releases albums realistically representing a band putting
itself to tape. But this stands, and stands tall.