Lynyrd Skynyrd

Lyve: The Vicious Cycle Tour

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"Celebrating 30 years of rock 'n' roll," declares a logo on the cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's fifth concert recording, Lyve: The Vicious Cycle Tour, and the anniversary the band seems to have in mind is the one in 2003, the year of the show heard on the disc, looking back to the 1973 release of their debut album Lynyrd Skynyrd (pronounced leh-nerd skin-nerd). To mark the occasion, the group brought in horn and string sections along with cameras and recording equipment (there is also a DVD version) for a July 11, 2003, performance at Amsouth Amphitheater in Antioch, TN. With the 2001 death of bassist Leon Wilkeson (to whom "Simple Man" is dedicated in the show), this edition of Lynyrd Skynyrd features only two of the musicians heard on that first LP, guitarist Gary Rossington and keyboardist Bill Powell. Lead singer Johnny Van Zant suggests there is really a more relevant anniversary when he notes that the band played the venue at the start of its reunion 16 years earlier. In those days, it was billing itself only as a tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd, and it is arguably even more of a tribute band today than it was then. Van Zant, who has now been in the band longer than his deceased older brother Ronnie, is unabashed about playing the cheerleader, declaring more than once that Lynyrd Skynyrd has many great songs, so many, it turns out, that some of them must be condensed into a medley. Several songs from the later version of the band are performed, among them four from 2003's Vicious Cycle album, but the crowd is there to hear the old warhorses, and Lynyrd Skynyrd plays them with the fervor and precision of a group bent on recreating the past. They do not play them with any new wrinkles, however, which means that unlike, say, the Allman Brothers Band, who are starting to follow the Grateful Dead in issuing numerous live albums, they do not justify repeated releases of different performances of the same songs. Lyve: The Vicious Cycle Tour is a souvenir for current fans, and it demonstrates that Lynyrd Skynyrd is maintaining a high standard of performance, but it is otherwise largely a redundant addition to their discography.

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