It's the obvious thing to do. You start a band, pick up a following, release some albums and then it's time to capture the excitement on stage. Enter the live album.
Now a good live album is a bit more than just a souvenir for those who were actually there. Does the 2CD Live at the 9:30 Club, recorded in Washington, DC, January 6, 2006, by the Virginia Coalition (VACO) make the cut? Yes, and no. There are some great songs on this release, but also a couple of filler tracks that fail to register when you are listening to them in the comfort of your own home, in other words: rather cumbersome AOR songs. Covering Bill Withers' Lean On Me might be fun in a crowded concert hall with your friends, but it's a lame joke anywhere else -- even if you scream ONE TWO THREE FOUR really fast to count off the song.
Let's focus on the good stuff. When VACO gets going, the going gets good. Gates of Wisdom ends in a free-style foot tapping salsa jam and Motown is lovely tribute to the legendary record label. The band saves the best for last performing Places People and Jerry Jermaine. Places People comes with a (short) drum solo and -- odd as it seems -- incorporating such a seventies extravaganza takes the song to a higher level. Jerry Jermaine gets the crowd on their feet once more before sending them home. VACO respects their fans. They printed the names off all the people who signed the guestbook on the night of the recording on the album cover art (souvenir, remember?).
Live at the 9:30 Club could have been a great album if the band had decided to release it as a single cd with all the highlights.
Andrew Poliakoff: lead vocals / guitar / percussion
Paul Ottinger: keyboards / percussion / vocals / bass guitar / guitar
Jarrett Nicolay: bass guitar / banjo / guitar / vocals / Casio
John Patrick: drums / vocals / trailer
Live at the 9:30 Club is released on Blu Hammock Music.