The Cardigans

Forward/Record

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Live performances have a way of separating the men from the boys and the women from the girls. All too often, artists who are overly reliant on studio technology don't fare well on stage; put them in front of a live audience, and their weaknesses become painfully obvious. So how do the Cardigans, a band that hasn't hesitated to take advantage of studio technology, fare on stage? This live bootleg lets us know that the answer to that question can be "quite well, thank you." Most of Forward/Record was recorded on April 29, 1999, at London's Royal Albert Hall, where the Cardigans performed material from Emmerdale, Life, First Band on the Moon, and Grand Turismo. Deprived of studio gloss, the band doesn't sound naked; in fact, lead vocalist Nina Persson really comes alive on gems like "Explode" and "Lovefool." Most of the songs acquire a harder edge on stage; the Swedes' live performances of "Been It," "Rise and Shine," and "Carnival" definitely rock harder than the studio versions. After the 11 Albert Hall performances, Forward/Record shifts gears and turns its attention to some BBC recordings, including a performance of "My Favorite Game" on England's Top of the Pops. Although enjoyable, the BBC material is more subdued and less inspired than the Albert Hall show. Just compare the Top of the Pops version of "My Favorite Game" to the Albert Hall version, and you can't miss the fact that the latter is more alive and rockin'. As much as this rare CD has going for it, however, it won't convert anyone who isn't already a Cardigans fan. But for those who already have a high opinion of the band, Forward/Record is well worth acquiring if you're able to track down a copy.