A lot of artists get busted for lip synching during live performances or flamed for releasing supposed 'live albums' that are severely edited. Sebastien Grainger's live album Live@NxNE definitely was not. Though most people can agree that performances should be 'au natural', the first track on the album, "I'm All Rage" and "Solution = Problem" had me wincing. Grainger's raw passion is undisputed but vocals are off-key frequently, especially rock wails. The derailed end of each phrase, detracts from the strong energy capable of breaking out.
The music also lacks cohesion. His backing group may gel in-studio but live work ought to be on pitch too. In fact we hear serious guitar-tuning before "Meet New Friends", the eighth number. No lack of sympathy for the realistic challenge of playing live. However addressing instruments at the second-last song is leaving it rather late. Vocal pitch is thrown off all the way through it. All that being said, Grainger can hold his own musically. After all, he was one half of the Toronto's dance-punk duo Death from Above 1979 whom were adored by critics and audiences alike.
"Love Is Not A Contest" and "Ways To Come Home" are well sung. The latter has a fantastic groove for radio. He gives a tender, whispering quality. Props for versatility. The band lets loose comfortably on stage. If extra care went into each part, their strikingly original blues/psychedelic sound would have an awesome impact.
"Kid Party" is a cool blend of old era Bowie & Jagger; beautiful organ in "Renegade Silence" delivers a mesmerizing Styx feel. Thumbs-up for the catchy "Who Do We Care For" rhythm and "American Names" melody. Grainger has a flair for song titles and one-on-one rapport with his audience.
Review by: C. Riedel
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Sebastian Grainger live: