Our Lady Peace

Live from Calgary and Edmonton

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After over ten years together, Toronto's Our Lady Peace settled into a sound that accesses the grandeur of U2 via clean channel grunge guitars and the anchor of frontman Raine Maida's charismatic steel-wool wail. Though his lyrics tend to cross the busy with the banal, Maida is usually saved by melody, especially on the undeniable arena-quality rock of OLP's string of hits. And it's these big, bursting singalongs that fare best on Live from Calgary and Edmonton, ranging from old favorites like "Superman's Dead" and "Naveed" to newer material like "Innocent" (which ends with a fawning crowd harmonizing on the song's uplifting chorus mantra). "Innocent" comes from OLP's 2002 release, Gravity, which behind the ubiquitous single "Somewhere Out There" became another monster hit at home, even if U.S. audiences still tended to view the band as Alternative Nation holdovers. Live works as a cap to a year that saw the combo garner six Much Music Video Award nominations, and fans will appreciate its greatest-hit qualities. But it won't convert very many new believers, since as live albums go it's pretty rote. The Calgary and Edmonton crowds are enthusiastic throughout, hanging on Maida's every word (breaking into the role of backup singers again on "Is Anybody Home") and accepting his compliments and stage prattle with raucous glee. Maida himself has much the same range live as he does on record, even if some of his high notes waver a bit. But Our Lady Peace prove to be an excessively clean live act -- every riff and drum fill is perfectly in place. If it wasn't for the persistent audience participation, much of Live could pass for a studio recording. The album does end strong, ripping into "Clumsy" and "Whatever" with authority, and prefacing early single "Starseed" with a Jeff Buckley-style blue light interlude. Live closes with a strangely antiseptic "Somewhere Out There," which never seems to muster any set-closing fire. Instead, it points to where Our Lady Peace is currently. "Somewhere" is a tasteful alt-rock arm swayer with a bit of stylized grit. But like OLP's American counterparts in the Goo Goo Dolls, the track really revolves around Maida's lyrics and voice. They're not particularly exciting, but they're convincing if you like your rock in an easy-to-swallow caplet.

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