Live at Mojoes in Joliet, IL
With Live being one of my favorite bands growing up and Throwing Copper being one of the first albums I ever owned, my expectations for what this show would entail may have been a bit high. As many fans probably were, I was skeptical once I learned that vocalist and guitarist Ed Kowalczyk was no longer a part of the group. As the voice of such a unique and emotional band from 1988 to 2009, it was hard to imagine someone filling his shoes. With sincere honesty, I can say that I was not only pleasantly surprised by Chris Shinn’s performance, but impressed on many levels. Not only did he have the raw talent to compete with Ed, but accomplished what may be the closest anyone could get to matching the original passion and tone of Ed’s vocals, which I considered impossible coming into this show.
With one of the first tracks being very recognizable, “All Over You” got an overwhelming crowd response. Singing every word as if they were singing in the shower, inhibitions were immediately out the window, and a feeling of comradery flooded the building. Even Chris himself seemed to be genuinely taken back by the crowd’s reaction as he thanked everyone in between songs. It became more and more noticeable as the show continued that the fans and the band were both enjoying themselves more for each and every song played.
Another classic that sucked the fans and myself in immediately was “I Alone.” The dynamic changes in this song were nothing short of incredible to see live. The bands chemistry was wonderful with matching smiles between the bassist Patrick Dahlheimer and drummer Chad Gracey during a solid drum and bass groove. Meanwhile, Chad Taylor laid down an abusive and brilliantly expressive guitar solo over the top of everything. Topping off a great track, Chris showed off again with some excellent falsetto and vocal gymnastics.
Even after hearing the song thousands of times, I found myself teary-eyed about half way through “Lightning Crashes.” Other than portraying a deep and strong connection to the song, Chris showed a level of showmanship and confidence to the crowd that you don’t see very often as he layed up against the front row of people singing directly to them while holding their hands. Maybe it was the energy of the venue that night, the wall of sound that the band was holding onto throughout, or the unexpected accuracy and solid rendition of some of my favorite 90’s classics by Chris Shinn, but this may very well have been the best straight rock concert I have been to. It may not be the same without all the original members, but if the chance to see these guys when they come around arises, I highly recommend taking it. Live definitely provided a captivating and powerful performance.