Another release by Mark Kozelek, front man of Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, is a live solo album played in Melbourne. The album offers us solo versions of many of Kozelek’s songs, ranging from his time with Red House Painters, to his work with Sun Kil Moon. The live album is punctuated with various snippets of Kozelek’s discussions with the audience, or his own musings to himself. The album has been released simultaneously with Mark Kozelek’s new solo album ‘Like Rats’, which offers a whole album of acoustic renditions of various songs. In a contrast with this new album, ‘Live at Phoenix Public House Melbourne’ offers us completely acoustic renditions of Kozelek’s own work.
There’s humour in the album, with Kozelek often taking time to add the odd comment (sometimes during songs). It’s amusing, but it doesn’t ever seem to distract away from the beauty of the songs he’s playing. As Kozelek plays he seems to let himself get lost in his own songs, and it becomes literally just a man singing and playing. Much like on the ‘Like Rats’ album, it is simplicity at its best, and once again it shows that sometimes simple music can be a brilliant thing. It could be argued that the songs aren’t that much different from their album counterparts, especially those ones played off the last Sun Kil Moon album ‘Among The Leaves’, which was an album featuring just Kozelek on a nylon acoustic guitar. However, with the kind of album this is, it just works, as like I said, it is just a simple album, played beautifully. There are at times some brilliant guitar playing, most noticeably in ‘Heron Blue’, where it seems like Kozelek’s hand is dancing across the strings of the guitar. The live rendition offered on this album is every bit as strong as the official album version on ‘April’.
The dialogue snippets seem to work well on this album as well. It helps to offer an overall scope of how the album was being received by the audience at the time. It’s interesting, and often funny at times, including one moment where Mark Kozelek has a discussion with one audience member on how he was able to receive a copy of the new Sun Kil Moon album ‘Among The Leaves’. It’s amusing at the best of times, and is certainly interesting to those who have not had the good fortune to see Kozelek live. Obviously it is not as good as the real experience, but it could be seen as better than nothing. I’m also under the impression though, that some people may look at these dialogue snippets less than favourably. It seems that a lot of the songs that they appear on, the dialogue takes up half the song, and dialogue snippets are not always the most interesting thing to listen too. Sure, it’s funny the first time round, but I imagine that after repeated listens that it could just become boring.
In conclusion, I must say that I rather enjoyed this live album. I’ve never been the biggest fan of live albums, as I always get the feeling that I’d rather be there, than listening to mere shadow of the performance. However, there’s something that’s just charming about this album. It’s an enjoyable album to listen to, and everything just sounds nice and calm. The presentation of the album is also brilliant, with Mark Kozelek being as brilliant as ever to listen too. The sheer talent that the man has is evident on the album, and is one of the best reasons for listening to the album. It’s a nice album, with some nice surprises on it too, including an acoustic version of ‘Mistress’ from Red House Painter’s second studio album. It’s relaxing to listen too, and is definitely a strong live album.
- ★★★★☆ 4/5
- I Know It’s Pathetic But That Was The Greatest Night Of My Life
- The Moderately Talented Yet Attractive Young Woman VS. The Exceptionally Talented Yet Not So Attractive Middle Aged Man
- Heron Blue