Zive v Paláci Akropolis

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On May 28, 2003, Echt! celebrated its 15th birthday with a live show in front of the enthusiastic audience of the Paláci Akropolis. The performance has been nicely recorded and makes an honest live album, capturing the flagship of the Czech pub rock scene in its element. The lineup is the same as the one featured on the group's previous studio album, Je Mi Krásne. Karel Malík may have a little less energy to give (you can almost hear him gasping for air toward the end of the set), but he is well supported. The songs are not as tight or well executed as on studio albums -- the sudden shifts in "Mám Vseho Dost" are not so sharply rendered, and the whistled melody of "Písen" is only a faint approximation of the original -- but the guys are obviously enjoying themselves and the energy they put in the performance is enough to satisfy the fan. The track list takes us on a round trip through Echt!'s records, without putting too much emphasis on the most recent (only three selections). Jirí Michálek proves out to be a ferocious live drummer, pushing the band firmly and fast, hitting harder than the average Irish/pub rock drummer. Tomas Schilla's cello playing smooths down the group's harder edge, introducing an element of folk. Sadly, his instrument is kept too low in the mix, in favor of Malík's and Vladimir Zatloukal's guitars. Highlights include strong renditions of "Stará Láska," "Kroky," and "To Se Stává." In terms of playlist, Zive v Paláci Akropolis would make a fine introduction to the band, but the delivery is just not precise enough to deserve such a recommendation. Start with Je Mi Krásne instead (a wonderful album fans of the Pogues will immediately relate to), and then have a go at this live effort.

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