Blind Melon

Live at the Palace

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Continuing the flood of posthumous Blind Melon product released in conjunction with the tenth anniversary of Shannon Hoon's death in 1995, Live at the Palace captures a show the quintet gave in Hollywood on October 11, 1995, a mere ten days before Hoon's passing. The group was on the road promoting its second album, Soup, and this live record logically leans heavily on that LP; six of the 12 tunes here were from that sophomore effort, which was only two months old at the time of the show. Blind Melon sound leaner, rawer on-stage than they did on record, which does have a nice effect of serving as an appropriate accompaniment for Hoon's raspy vocals, which are the first sign that things weren't necessarily all right in the Blind Melon camp. Hoon never sounds completely out of it on Live at the Palace, but he sounds as if he's teetering on the brink of losing it, particularly in the rough sandpaper tones of his voice and how he occasionally slips into a slight slur. Given his fate, it's a little easier, in retrospect, to hear how his performance shows signs of wear and tear, but at the time, this show must have sounded like just another solid concert. And to a certain extent, it still does -- for hardcore fans, there is a poignant undercurrent, all due to Hoon's early death -- but for those who aren't already devoted to the band, the effect of listening to Live at the Palace is not dissimilar to putting on one of the many Kiss the Stone bootlegs that cluttered CD stores in the mid-'90s. KTS specialized in turning out high-quality boots of ordinary shows, even for bands that didn't have all that many fans. Live at the Palace offers exactly that kind of experience: it's not a bad show, but it isn't a special one, and while there's an audience for it, there are far more people who will just be bewildered by its existence. That said, at least KTS' packaging wouldn't have been quite as haphazard as that on the official Live at the Palace, a posthumous release that not only contains no notes whatsoever, but prints the wrong track sequencing on the back cover. There may not be a huge Blind Melon cult out there, but there is one, and they deserve to have their devotion repaid with a package that's a little bit better than this.

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