Jane Live by Converge

Release date: February 24, 2017
Label: Deathwish Inc.

To write about Converge’s Live Performance of Jane Doe at Roadburn 2016 without falling down the rabbit hole of fanboyism for the album is a tricky task. The impact and sheer brilliance of the bands’ fourth studio album cannot be stressed without sounding somewhat redundant. 15 years after its release, we are finally blessed with a new talking point to add to the albums’ legacy.

For fans that were gutted to have missed out on witnessing this one-off occasion, Jane Live serves as a subject of both consolation and frustration.

As obvious as the choice of playing the album may seem, the task of performing Jane Doe from front to back is easier said than done. Aside from its songwriting, the albums’ chaotic and haunting impact on the whole is defined and shaped by its meticulous production, which balances rawness and a cinematic feel achieved through studio precision. I believe that it is only when one bears this fact in mind that we can begin to fully appreciate the outstanding work and expertise that went into this live record. From the cacophonous mayhem that is ‘Concubine’ leading all the way up to the album’s soul-crushing conclusion, Marcel Van De Vondervoort’s live sound, coupled with Kurt Ballou and Brad Boatright’s respective mixing and mastering work, does an incredible job in bringing the records’ broad range of ambivalent and textured emotions to life. The sound is as precise as it can get, staying true to the album’s balance of dissonant cacophony and compositional focus all the while incorporating the energy and urgency of a live show. Interestingly enough, Jane Live, while staying in line with its source material, occasionally ends up sounding cleaner than the studio versions of the songs.

Performance-wise, Converge put on a tight, energetic show, adding transitions in-between songs to liven the experience and smoothen the pace of the set. Jacob Bannon’s muffled squawks and yelled vocals take a confident step towards the foreground of the mix, adding a tinge of clarity to some of the songs’ undecipherable lyrics.

For an album centred around the decay and downfall of a relationship, the endurance factor of the live set serves as the most natural and valuable addition to the songs’ performance. By constraining the album to a 50-minute set, the performance grows progressively murkier. The physicality of the performance weighs down on the band as they pummel through one song after another, dipping into a slightly more ruffled sound which adds to the records’ impact.

With its precise production and ferocious delivery, Jane Live offers an interesting new take on the bands’ most iconic studio output. Whether the alternate mix and live element proves to be a valuable addition to your record collection remains up to personal taste, although there is little to no doubt that even the most casual fan will be chuffed as nuts to give this masterfully crafted live record a spin.

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