Smoking Popes

Smoking Popes At Metro

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After a seven year hiatus, the Smoking Popes have at last resurfaced. The band initially reunited near the end of 2005 for a one-off show as part of the Chicago music festival, Flower15, put on by Flower Booking to raise money for local charities. Miss the concert? For fans overcome with frustration at not being able to get to Chicago, or who couldn't secure a ticket to the show, the nice folks at Victory Records have documented the night on the CD/DVD At Metro to appease the pain somewhat . (The Popes have since embarked on a reunion headlining tour, but alas, no one knew this in November). And all will be happy to know that At Metro finds the Smoking Popes sounding like they never really left in the first place. Song choice pretty much spans their whole catalog leaving -- as one might expect of a reunion show -- the set list resembling their best-of collection; fan favorites represented include "Pretty Pathetic," "Gotta Know Right Now," "Megan," "Need You Around," and "Paul," among others. The audio CD has four less tracks than what appears on the accompanying DVD, which documents their set from the show, but it's no less enjoyable as a result. The only real stumble of the album occurs in its packaging. The DVD's set list is printed on the back of the case, so if one uses it to follow along with the audio CD, song titles become quickly skewed. Older fans will hopefully catch the discrepancies, but young fans using the album to familiarize themselves with the influential Popes may run into some confusion -- use the back of the enclosed booklet to avoid any mix-ups. That small glitch aside, At Metro is a great live listen for fans both new and old. Well-shot and recorded, the DVD in itself is worth it for those who may not necessarily want another greatest-hits type album, but who would enjoy watching the band's 23-song set instead. Now go throw out the crappy, wavering, tinny bootleg your friend's brother's neighbor shot from the back and pick this double-disc album up instead.

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