Live is back, live at Musikfest, with original lineup
The recently reunited Live, on its 25th anniversary “The Reunion World Tour,” joins the Musikfest headliner lineup at 7 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Sands Steel Stage at PNC Plaza, SteelStacks, Bethlehem. Black Pistol Fire opens the show.
Live, a multi-platinum alternative rock band from York, Pennsylvania, consisting of Ed Kowalczyk, vocals-guitar; Chad Taylor, guitar-backing vocals; Patrick Dalheimer, bass, and Chad Gracey, drums-percussion, has sold more than 22 million albums and charted two No. 1 albums, “Throwing Copper” and “Secret Samadhi.”
The original lineup, which dates to 1989, is performing on tour and at Musikfest,
Live went through several names before becoming Live, including Public Affection, its name when it played The Funhouse, Bethlehem, prior to its first release, “Mental Jewelry,” in 1991.
The album, “Throwing Copper,” which sold 10 million copies, included the singles, “I Alone,” “All Over You,” and the No. 1 Billboard Modern Rock hits, “Selling the Drama” and “Lightning Crashes.”
Rolling Stone placed “Throwing Copper” on its “1994: The Best Records from Mainstream Alternatives’ Greatest Year.” “Throwing Copper” reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart in 1995, its 52nd week on the chart.
“Secret Samadhi,” released in 1997, shot to number No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 and went double-platinum. The album, “The Distance To Here,” was released In 1999.
“Lightning Crashes” was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart for 10 consecutive weeks.
“‘Lightning Crashes’ has really come into its own over time. ‘Lightning Crashes’ is a really amazing song to play in concert,” Kowalczyk says in a phone interview.
“I used to say that there are thousands of people singing this song back to me. It’s such a special song, I hope it gets heard and becomes a single hit at some point. They said it would never be a single. It just was not a radio song. It was too long … five minutes long. I chuckle to myself now when I think of that song.
“I like different songs at different times for different reasons,” Kowalczyk continues. “There is a song called ‘The Distance Here,’ which melodically and lyrically, it is the strongest both as a writer and as a band.”
Live is releasing “Mental Jewelry 25th anniversary” in a deluxe remastered edition in multiple formats, including colored vinyl, standard vinyl, cassette and a two-CD edition.
Ahead of the release, the band is premiering one of the bonus tracks featured on the reissue, a 1992 live version of the album’s opening song, “Pain Lies On The Riverside,” recorded at the Roxy in Los Angeles, in one of the group’s first major shows.
“I was really surprised to hear and experience again how fully formed we were as a young band by the time we played the Roxy show,” Kowalczyk tells Rolling Stone magazine.
“Going back and listening to the show from the Roxy was a real treat. After 25 years of growing as a musician and homing in on our craft, to go back and hear it was really interesting.
“There is a freshness to that concert that really struck me. The four of us were so locked in together. We were a unit and you could hear the chemistry we had. It was undeniable. There is a charm to it that you can’t ever recapture.
“We were getting out of York, Pa., and we were on fire with this passion to succeed. It was a learning process to go back and figure out how to rekindle some of that energy again. Sometimes, it gets overly sophisticated and you almost get too good over the years,” Kowalczyk says.
Kowalczyk departed the band in 2009. Live reformed in 2011, without Kowalczyk. He rejoined in December 2016.
“We were performing professionally for 20 years and started the band when I was 13-years-old. We all felt it was time to open a new chapter and that two years turned into seven.
“Fast forward to a year and a half ago. Chad Taylor and I met for a beer in York, and talked. We started to chill out and the amazing, good history we had as a band started to resurface. The history was good and so much bigger than anything that happened that wasn’t good.
“Within a few days, we met up at the studio and were writing, recording and rehearsing … None of us really expected it, but we were re-energized and it’s been great.
“There is a unique depth to the lyrics and approach of the band in general. Coupled with the band’s live performances and the way we record and capture it all over the years, it’s unique.
“I think we swung for the fences early on and that can be a treacherous way to proceed because the ups are very up and the downs are very down. It’s a pressure and expectation we put on ourselves.
“Some people we think we are very intense and are known as this seriously inspired, intense band. We found our approach and made it work in rock and roll,” Kowalczyk says.
The band is working on a new album while on tour for the rest of the summer, appearing at various United States festivals and opening for Guns N’ Roses concerts, including Aug. 11 in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Aug. 13 at HersheyPark Stadium, Hershey.
Ticket information: musikfest.org; 610-332-1300