After keeping a low profile since the release of God Save the Smithereens in 1999, the Smithereens returned to record making with a vengeance in 2007, but not in a way likely to offer much encouragement to their fans; in the space of 18 months, they released an album of Beatles covers, a Christmas collection, and then this live disc in which the band takes on their best-known songs before an audience of loyal fans at the Court Tavern, a club they played many times in their early days in New Brunswick, NJ. None of this seems to bode well for the Smithereens' ability to generate new material or come up with fresh ideas, but if the band wanted to present a calling card for future touring, they could hardly have done a better job than with Live in Concert! Here, the Smithereens sound tough, full-bodied, and tight as the proverbial drum, and though they offer no new material here, the group plays their back catalog with a commendable degree of enthusiasm. Pat DiNizio's moody vocals are rich and well modulated, DiNizio and Jim Babjak's guitars roar and jangle gloriously, Severo Jornacion holds down the bottom end like a champ, and Dennis Diken stakes his claim as one of the most solid drummers in pop, laying down a furious backbeat and filling the spaces with skill and imagination. While the band sticks close to their original arrangements most of the time, when they do open up the tunes they find interesting things, and the extended soloing on "House We Used to Live In" in full flight recalls the Who on Live at Leeds. It's anyone's guess where the Smithereens are headed from here, but Live in Concert! confirms they can still cut the mustard on-stage, and it's a mighty impressive look back at the group's best stuff.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming