Coil avoided playing live for so much of their life that many fans had given up on the possibility of seeing them perform in public. That all changed in 2001, and Coil released a series of four concert recordings, documenting the evolution of the live Coil experience. Live Four, recorded in Prague and Vienna in 2002, features the best sound quality of the series, and a compelling performance from John Balance, Peter Christopherson, Thighpaulsandra, and Ossian Brown, also known as Ossian Sex Shop. The album begins with a one-two punch: the incantatory "I Am Angie Bowie (Sine Waves)" leading into "Last Rites of Spring," which is filled with creepy synths, lurching and glowering like a malevolent spirit finally made flesh. The piece rotates around itself, never really seeming to progress, but constantly is turning in on itself. "Are You Shivering?" continues the creepy synth vibe, descending violins or hurdy-gurdies channeling the spirit of Norma Desmond at the end of Sunset Boulevard. The highlight of the concert is "Amethyst Deceivers." It has a spacy atmosphere, all bouncing-ball bass and tinkling piano. Ossian's hurdy-gurdy also plays in well on the track, directly leading to the climax of the piece. And surprisingly, they do a spectacularly moving cover version of "Bang Bang," written by Sonny Bono and sung most memorably in a previous version by Nancy Sinatra. This album is a highlight not only of the Live series, but also of the Coil catalog.
AllMusic Review by James Mason