Having opened for Taylor Swift's Speak Now Tour in 2011, Needtobreathe were already an experienced arena rock band by the time they produced their first full-length live album, Live from the Woods at Fontanel. Recorded on the heels of the success of their Billboard Top Five album Rivers in the Wasteland, it captures a high-intensity show at the 4,500-capacity Nashville venue on September 13, 2014. The record's 17 tracks represent songs from all but their debut album, including singles "The Outsiders" and "Brother." Part of the tour in support of Rivers in the Wasteland, the set list is weighted heavily toward that album, with all but two (no "Rise Again" or "Where the Money Is") of its 11 songs represented. Multiple tracks from 2009's The Outsiders and 2011's The Reckoning are included, as well as the bluesy "Washed by the Water" from their 2007 release The Heat. Live from the Woods experiences that can't be duplicated with the studio recordings include the eight-minute twangy jam version of "Oh, Carolina" and a version of "Wanted Man" that leads into an abbreviated hard rock cover of Modest Mouse's "Float On." Bear Rinehart's strong, sound-defining lead vocals are clear and mixed high throughout the record, but the crowd is still audible in quieter moments, such as clapping and singing along with "Multiplied" and "Something Beautiful." Overall, while the track selection doesn't quite substitute for a greatest-hits collection, the album captures a strong live band delivering a clean, energetic performance (including revealing stage banter) that is certain to please fans and an absolute must for anyone interested in a souvenir of the tour.
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AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2