Live albums are a curious beast. Stick too closely to the hits and you risk giving the audience a not-quite-as-good re-hashing of the album cuts. Wander off into more experimental lands and you can alienate fans who expect a nice, warm plate of re-hash. You’d think that Old Man Gloom, a band who start off relatively experimental and whose ‘hits’ stretch to 20minute long tracks, could have the best of both. Well, sort of.
For all of the space that Old Man Gloom’s music gives the live musician to work within, the tracks presented here are performed almost entirely straight. Compared to Ulver’s recent semi-live ATGCLVLSSCAP, where previous themes are reworked and layered upon each other, Mickey Rookey could quite well be a Spotify playlist with the reverb whacked way up and some “GOOD EVENING LONDON” banter sprinkled in.
Which isn’t to say that this is a bad record. The tracks, a good spread from the bands output, rattle along at a heads-down pace and the gig itself was probably a stormer. The whole performance is an excellent mix of the cascading riffs and elongated ambience that Old Man Gloom are so well known for. Yet the same could be said for Zozobra, a studio release that distils the OMG sound into a tighter and much more clearly produced package with none of the performance errors that Mickey Rookey’s press sheet makes such an ironic point of telling us about.
Which brings us back to the trouble with live albums. Fans of Old Man Gloom, especially those actually at the London gig it presents, will find a lot to like in this but it’s far from essential. Newcomers to the group would be far better placed in picking up Seminars II & III before working out from there.
Scribed by: Daniel Pietersen