Sunday, September 28, 2008

Review - Archive "Live at the Zenith"

Live albums always present an interesting juxtaposition of pure, unbridled honesty and a certain level of fabrication within the context of the source environment. Take for example Live at the Zenith, the 'new' release from UK's Archive ('new' in that it has been out for some time in Europe, but just reached shelves in North America recently).

The album was recorded at Paris' sold-out Zenith Arena in January of 2007 and fully captures their building, epic throwback too-new-to-be-considered-classic rock sound that fills stadiums in many (mostly non-English dominated) countries across Europe. The crowd's response to tracks such as "Fuck U", "Pulse", and "Black" provide the listener with the context of a large, spanning audience completely enthralled by their Floyd-esque vibe. In listening to it, one can't be blamed for assuming that Archive is the biggest, most influential rock band on the planet.

The main problem with this listening experience across the Atlantic, however, is that it evokes an atmosphere with which us North Americans just can't relate. Even if we are Archive fans (which painfully few are compared to our European counterparts), our live experience with the band is far more likely to be taking place at the El Mocambo than the Air Canada Centre. Not to say that the show wouldn't be great at the El Mo (it would probably be better), but the overall experience of "Live at the Zenith" doesn't adequately represent the North American listener experience.

Perhaps its North America's general apathy for the band which has caused this release (and 2006's Lights) to take so long to reach shelves here, or rather its that they seem to not mark us on their map of priority that has caused them to not fully take off over here; regardless of cause, all Live at the Zenith does for American and Canadian Archive fans is remind us that short of hopping a plane, we'll never experience the ethereal magic of seeing the band amongst thousands of others who actually give a shit.


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