Tanglefoot raises the bar for live performance CDs with Captured Alive.
There is nothing like hearing your favorite band in concert, when your attention is focused not only on the music but the moments that make each performance unique. A live recording can go a long way to recapturing the exuberance and energy of the performance, including the audience responses and all the spontaneous events that flavor the concert.
There are drawbacks, however. Some of the polish and quality of a studio recording is sacrificed, and often the banter that seemed so witty between songs at the concert gets very old very fast with repeated listening.
Neither is the case on Captured Alive. True to its title, the CD captures the essence of a Tanglefoot concert and, at the same time, it delivers studio quality sound. From the first rousing notes of "Secord's Warning" to the sultry tension and runaway fiddles of "La V'la M'amie," the CD is a painstakingly crafted production. Recorded over three concerts at Toronto's Flying Cloud Folk Club in May 2003, the tracks are pieced together practically seamlessly, with many transitions nearly impossible to spot without headphones.
The concerts marked a transition for the band, as they were the final performances for Joe Grant (vocals, fiddle, guitar) and introduced Terry Snider, Grant's successor on the fiddle. Also appearing in fine form are the rest of the guys: Steve Ritchie (vocals, guitar), Al Parrish (vocals, Currah bass), Terry Young (vocals, mandolin, banjos, guitar, whistle, harmonica) and Bryan Weirmier (vocals, piano).
The tracks represent an eclectic assortment of Tanglefoot favorites old and new and include a few songs less familiar to concert-goers such as the poignant "Keppel Township Love Song." Grant sings lead on this song and turns over fiddler duties to Snider whose performance gives the simple song a rich and lovely underpinning. Ritchie offers a moving and heartfelt rendition of "Old Broken Soldier," and its sentiment certainly resonates with any listener today.
Young has made "Dollar Bill" entirely his own with hard-driving energy in vocals versatile enough to turn gentle and wistful in "Fire and Guns." Parrish outdoes himself on "One More Night" and "Traighli Bay," and the double fiddles (Grant and Snider) on "Awkward Donald" and "La V'la M'amie" add dimension and power to both pieces. Weirmier's piano shines through brilliantly on almost all the tracks and never sounds out of place.
There are only a handful of introductions included on separate tracks, but they seem like integral parts of the performances, perhaps because they demonstrate the overall thoughtfulness of the entire CD.
Tanglefoot's Captured Alive features stellar live concert performances from the entire band, impeccable production, studio quality sound and appealing, attractive packaging. This is an essential addition to the CD collections of those new to the band and dedicated FootHeads alike.