The concept of a live album has been watered down in recent years, thanks to technology allowing too many bands to rely on backing tracks and stale programming to “enhance” their performance. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for a bit of fx, but “live” performances these days, never mind live album releases, are becoming less and less live.
Fear not though, because Anti-Flag are hardly that band, right? This live compilation, cherry picked from three nights at LA’s Troubador venue, features 13 high energy greatest hits of fists in the air anti-system punk rock. But it’s hard to put yourself in the midst of a sweaty Anti-Flag live show – surely a real live album (and certainly a punk rock one) is all about giving the listener a genuine concert experience, not choosing the best bits from three different gigs.
Stand out moments ‘You’d Do The Same’, ‘Born To Die’ and ‘Fuck The Flag’ come closest to replicating the sound of a live rock ‘n’ roll band through speakers. But there’s little in the way of audience noise or involvement and minimal “banter” between songs. Save for the occasional “you crazy motherfuckers are beautiful, you all love each other” type spiel. This means there’s little besides the slick post production and old school punk rock dynamic to distinguish ‘Volume One’ from a spin through a selection of YouTube clips.
A live selection box set supported with b-sides and rare recordings might have been a more welcome addition to the Anti-Flag repertoire, but the forthcoming second live volume may yield something to set it apart from what frankly feels like a bit of filler to stick out before a big tour.
‘Volume One’ will be sure to give die hard Anti-Flag fans a decent hit until the next record comes along, but for newcomers looking for their first taste, stick to classics like ‘Underground Network’ and ‘For Blood and Empire’.
‘Live Volume One’ by Anti-Flag is released on 20th January 2017 on A-F Records / Little Rocket Records.
Words by Adam Lewis (@adamlew86)