Pavement - Live Europaturnén MCMXCVII (2008)

From all available evidence, it appears that live Pavement shows come in two varieties: very on and very, very off. Theirs is a style that, on record, glorifies the remedial, the happy accident and the sheer joy to be found in a burst of obscene noise. This can be hard to replicate live- play it too loose and they become an unfocussed mess, play too straight and it just isn’t Pavement.

Luckily for the fans that received this record (those who pre-ordered the deluxe edition of Brighten the Corners at the end of 2008), Pavement got the balance just right on the night that this was recorded. Opening with the beautiful country stylings of “Father to a Sister of Thought”, it’s clear from the off that Pavement are playing with what they’re playing. Either Bob Nastanovic or Spiral Stairs has added an extra bit of chiming texture to an already great song, and SM is twisting the melody with some actual emotional involvement. This seems to happen more the further back in time they reach (this was recorded in the “Brighten” era), so songs like “Silent Kid” from CRCR and “Loretta’s Scars” from S&E get a few new twists.

The set list is tight; hearing “Father to a Sister of Thought” from Wowee Zowee lead into something that isn’t the forgettable “Extradition” is always a plus, and here we get Brighten’s sharp single “Shady Lane” instead. A few more Slanted and Enchanted tracks wouldn’t have gone astray (we only get the one), but what they do play is played so well that it’s hard to complain. Even Spiral Stairs deliver the vocal goods when he duets with SM on rare single “Painted Soldiers”.

The recording quality straddles the line between fidelity and stuffy bootleg atmosphere quite successfully- this isn’t Bowie’s Stage, but it isn’t an early European Beatles bootleg either (however much the faux-disguised track listing on the record wants it to be). Like Pavement’s early work, this was made for vinyl (the only format that the set is available on for now), and its playful warmth radiates through every groove.

Definitely more than worth snapping up if you can track down a copy. Even if it's just to hear the great lyric replacing the Smashing Pumpkins diss on "Range Life"- "Kula Shaker in the Melody Maker/Pin-up stars, big big cars/But no tunes/Or should I say 'choooons?"


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