In a way, it’s possible to question the need for a Sleater-Kinney live album. After all, the band’s catalogue feels so definitive, so incisive, that it hardly needs any supplement or extension.
‘Live In Paris’, though, manages to retain the urgency of their studio recordings while adding something new, and drawing out some wonderful aspects of the band’s inherent personal chemistry and supreme musicality.
Opening with ‘Price Tag’ that incessant, instantly recognisable riff spasms against clashing guitar chords, the rattling vocals and drums that splash from speaker to speaker. Each note feels alive, the melody squashed and stretched into fresh directions.
‘Oh!’ is all interlocking guitar and bass, the drums left free to scatter as they wish, while ‘A New Wave’ rips apart the precision of the original, reimagining a photograph as paint smeared across canvas.
The pace barely lets up: ‘No Cities To Love’ is post-punk bedlam, while ‘I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone’ manages to both muse on fan worship while also posing as an example of supreme shit-kicking rock ‘n’ roll.
It’s remarkable to hear the band having such fun – the sheer exhilaration of the live performance, the gasping vocals and panting arrangement. It’s something that, by sheer virtue of the medium, isn’t available to the studio originals.
Recorded at Parisian venue La Cigale in 2015, the timing of the show adds another layer of meaning to these performances. Sleater-Kinney’s vastly successful second act has delivered music that ranks amongst the finest rock has produced post-Millennium, and it has also spurred on a renewed appreciation of their influential role and extreme importance in the broader landscape.
From the delighted cheers of the fans to the simple message of ‘merci’ from Sleater-Kinny themselves ‘Live In Paris’ is the sound of band who – frequently under-rated, sometimes unjustly ignored – have found a room of their own. This is their time.
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