Some bands excel at music which is all about the space and intricacy that the studio allows them. Other bands are more about the live experience. And as great as their studio albums are, The Godfathers is definitely a band that falls more into the latter category. The compromise of course comes with the live album and it is the ability to navigate this tricky middle ground, the skill of capturing the live energy of the band onto such a one-dimensional medium as a CD, that is the difference between the success and failure of such a venture.
When you are at the gig, taking in the power and the glory, the spectacle and the showmanship that accompanies the music of such raw and raucous bands, it is all about the one off, in the moment experience. Producing a permanent, audio keep-sake of such a night means that listeners have the time to paw over any failings or faults that are born between the in-your-face, live musical experience and the capturing of that night for prosperity.
If a good studio album is a precision built affair involving recording, re-recording, session players, extra tracking, sonic gimmickry and engineering tricks all painstakingly pieced together over many months, a live album is about everything coming together in the moment. This Is War… is The Godfathers having their moment. It’s the sound of a well-rehearsed band but also one that is just relaxed and loose enough through untold years served before the sonic mast. It is the sound of a band feeding off an appreciative audience. Last but not least it is the sound of the backroom boys getting things right, leaving the rough edges on and letting everything breathe. The perfect sonic storm for the perfect sonic stormtroopers!
This is not only a brilliant document of the live experience it is a reminder of how many great songs the band has written. Cause I Said So is a bold and belligerent singalong, A Big Bad Beautiful Noise growls and prowls around the room, Birth School Work Death remains the brilliant terrace anthem it has always been only more so and She Gives Me Love is a suitably trashy blues blast. Knock out punch after knock out punch is delivered, a greatest hits outing that also showcases the fact that even here, at the sharp end of a long and illustrious career, they can still make their case with an energy, attitude, swing and swagger that would put to shame most bands half their age.
You can make an argument that rock and roll is a young person’s game. It’s an argument that young people in an attempt to be cool, or worse still… relevant, try to make all the time. A better argument is the longer that you keep at something the better you get at it and This Is War…is proof that The Godfathers are in the best shape of their lives.