Recorded during their epic support-slot slog around the world with The Cure, ‘Escape From New York’ is the first live album from Sheffield post-rock-cum-techno powerhouses 65daysofstatic, and it successfully translates their amazing on-stage prowess to the compact-disc medium.
Captured at both Madison Square Gardens and the titular city’s Radio City Music Hall – although the album’s neat segueing doesn’t imply it’s made up of content from two different gigs stitched together – ‘Escape…’ does what so few live albums manage: it delivers the thrills of the live experience, the euphoric highs of so many skyscraping riffs and drum and bass breakdowns, without filling itself with process-slowing between-song banter; a smooth, silkily arranged aural encounter with one of the very best live bands around.
Some groups’ sets are as cheerfully characterised by audience-baiting interjections as they are the actual music – take Future Of The Left’s ‘Last Night I Saved Her From Vampires’ live record as a good example of punter-to-performer-and-back interaction – but 65days leave such frills out of their equation, allowing the music alone to shine through and do almost every ounce of talking for them. There’s no skipping onwards for a cheap gag, no observations of punter excess – simply, the band plays hard and fast for ten tracks, and then stops.
As an instrumental act perhaps this is to be expected, with only the odd thank you slipping into proceedings, but by maintaining focus on the execution of their complex cross-genre rock 65days here provide not only a fantastic document of their live abilities, but also something of a ‘greatest hits’ package for aficionados and newcomers alike – if this is your first taste of the band, the material they cover projects a neat overview of three albums’ worth of scintillating songwriting.
The superb second-album (‘One Time For All Time’) double of ‘Drove Through Ghosts To Get Here’ and ‘Await Rescue’ arrive within the first four songs, and the foursome’s epic closer on said LP, ‘Radio Protector’, is as glorious here as it was on its limited-run seven-inch release. The piano intro never fails to set the skin tingling, its graceful piece-end slide to final stillness and silence a moment of great beauty, while in between it’s simply the most engrossingly gorgeous cacophony you’ll hear outside of MBV at their most sumptuous after a few too many experience-enhancing chemicals.
With cuts from both the band’s studio debut ‘The Fall Of Math’ and their latest, 2007’s ‘The Destruction of Small Ideas’, making the end-product sequencing, ‘Escape…’ tidily encompasses all relevant eras of its makers’ career to date, while augmenting catalogue classics like ‘Retreat! Retreat!’ with extended versions and additional beat-driven tangents. When all’s come to a heady climax with ‘A Failsafe’, one is left with the answer as to why the band attract so many fans within the industry, Johnny Marr the latest to express his adoration: they are amazing at what they do.
Also included is a road movie-style documentary on DVD, adding value to this set, but if I’m being honest I’ve not had the time to watch it yet. It’ll be a bonus treat for me in the coming weeks as I await the release of what’s certain to be a phenomenal fourth LP proper, currently being worked on by the quartet. If you want to experience the full rush of 65days come said release, you’re advised to pick this up as an invaluable precursor to everything that’s yet to pass.
As it promises to be quite something.
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Last week, ClashMusic.com featured FIVE downloads from across the career of 65daysofstatic, from their demo era through to a track from the above-reviewed album. Click HERE to get your hands on the tracks.