John Waite – Live, All Access

3

Review by Brian McGowan

Waite’s worldwide hit, ‘Missing You’ is a blessing and curse. A song by which you will always be remembered, and for right or wrong, a song by which everything else you do will be judged.

Passionate, powerful, compelling, it is a poignant evocation of love’s pain and pleasure.

And it seems that Waite has been trying to touch our emotional pulse in much the same way ever since, often trying too hard to reveal that same glint of rock’n’roll beauty with each new recording.

To his ultimate credit, he is still subjecting himself to the tour grind. These are not the eighties, but there’s a fanbase there…you’ve just got to get on the road and find it.

Live, All Access, released on Waite’s own label, is an 8 track, 34 minute, full-colour snapshot of a solo career, performed live. Clearly galvanized by last album, Rough & Tumble’s lean, mean approach, Waite delivers a high energy assault on the senses, the songs picked to ensure that the moods and images continually shift, as his wordy lyrics explore the fault lines in our emotions and our relationships.

His band, notably, has Keri Kelli (Supersub) on guitar with the lesser known Tim Hogan and Rhondo on bass and drums respectively, and they do what all great backing bands do.

Of the eight songs that go under the knife of live performance, most come out looking a lot like trimmer, better defined versions of how they looked before. Studio slickness has been cut away, transforming songs like ‘Change’ (from Waite’s debut solo album) and ‘Head First’ (from his time with The Babys) into to raw live action heroes.

Writing with Matchbox Twenty’s Kyle Cook for his Rough & Tumble album turns out to have been Waite’s best shot for a while at recreating some of the magic of Temple Bar and Figures In A Landscape. ‘Better Off Gone’ and ‘Have You Ever Been Lonely’ have that same wistful quality, that same emotional undertow, without the hint of pretension that has marred other material recorded over the years.

Live, they sound almost redemptive, with Waite and Kelli creating a richly atmospheric combination of sheer, spine tingling emotion and true sentiment.

Arguably though, ‘In Dreams’, written with mark Spiro is the album’s pick. Waite’s vocal, slender and wiry, wraps itself around the song, alternately radiating vulnerability and steely determination.

Apparently, Waite’s planning a live release every six months or so. If he keeps up this kind of quality, Christmas lists need look no further. (Sorry about the C word)

John-Waite-Live-All-Access8 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Change
  2. Better Off Gone
  3. If You Ever Get Lonely
  4. Head First
  5. Mr Wonderful
  6. In Dreams
  7. Evil
  8. Saturday Night

 

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