Against Me! – [2CD]

Against Me! – [2CD]

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

23 Live Sex Acts
(Total Treble)

There’s no easy way to review an Against Me album anymore; well, not in the conventional sense, anyway. Everyone knows why, so why no talk about it? It’s not easy to review an Against Me! album anymore because Tom Gabel was replaced on the mic by Laura Jane Grace. Does that really make so great a difference? It shouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t; the catch has everything to do with the gift wrapping in which the music is presented now, and that makes things complicated – somehow. Well, it’s a problem as long as one chooses to let it be a problem and, because Ground Control is proudly equal opportunity in its criticisms, we’ve chosen to ignore the incongruent nature of Laura Jane Grace’s vocal tone and personal appearance, and just let this show stand for both what it is and what it is not.

“So what is it,” you ask?

Speaking as someone who saw Against Me! repeatedly before Gabel was replaced by Grace, I can say with a pretty fair amount of authority that the show collected on 23 Live Sex Acts is precisely the sort of show that fans would hope to see and hear: it is direct, it is confrontational an it’s louder than hell. It’s a great punk rock show, and it is that from start to finish; from the moment “Fuckmylife666” opens the set, Laura Jane Grace, guitarist James Bowman, drummer Atom Willard and bassist Inge Johannsen lunge hard at the audience with their performance, and hold nothing back at all. It’s awesome – like always.

…And the beauty of this 23 Live Sex Acts set is that it pulls together songs from every corner of the Against Me! songbook – not just from the Laura Jane Grace-fronted album Transgender Dysphoria Blues – and creates a very well-balanced and executed performance. Longtime fans will be absolutely elated to hear a raucous and raging rendition of “Miami” as well as solid performances of “Thrash Unreal,” “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” and “White Crosses,” and be happy to discover that, while the band’s membership may have changed, the spirit and power of the music comes across undiminished and the guiding principles which hve always governed the band’s performances (marathon set lengths which feature unbelievable power and passion) remain intact. As one listens, it’s easy to hear that Against Me!’s show is the same as it ever was – and that nothing has really changed about everything which matters about Against Me! feels very, very gratifying. Those who have difficulty accepting the fact that the show doesn’t look the same just need to close their eyes and listen. [BILL ADAMS]


23 Live Sex Acts is out now. Buy it here on Amazon.!&qid=1455649921&ref_=sr_1_6&sr=8-6

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