You never know how the public will react when a popular band replaces its lead singer – it could be a new beginning or the beginning of the end.
If Saturday’s packed house at the Keystone Grand Ballroom at Mohegan Sun Pocono is any indication, Live has nothing to worry about.
The crowd rose to its feet as soon as the quartet from York – Patrick Dahlheimer (bass), Chad Gracey (drums), Chad Taylor (lead guitar, backing vocals) and Chris Shinn (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) – took the stage with “The Dam at Otter Creek,” the lead-off song from 1994’s eight-times platinum “Throwing Copper.”
Shinn, the former lead singer of Unified Theory, did an admirable job all evening long, whether singing one of the band’s biggest hits or presenting a new song from the group’s recent album, “The Turn.” His energy must have rubbed off on his new bandmates as Dahlheimer, Gracey and Taylor played with an intensity not seen since the group’s heyday in the mid-‘90s.
The band let the songs speak for themselves throughout Saturday’s performance, not wasting any time with the usual stage patter. It was a good way to remind the audience of just how many great songs Live had during its glory period in the ‘90s, while also showing them that the band is back and ready to rock in 2015.
Numerous cell phones lit up to record the night’s second song, “I Alone,” a No. 6 hit from 1994, and a strong performance of “Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition)” from 1991’s debut album “Mental Jewelry” followed.
Live went right back to “Throwing Copper” for the No. 4 hit “All Over You” and kept up the momentum with “Siren’s Call,” a standout from the new album.
Other songs from the new album, including “6310 Rodgerton Dr.” and first single “The Way Around Is Through” with a smoking guitar solo from Taylor, sounded really good Saturday night as well – and right at home with the hits.
The band also scored with “Turn My Head” from 1997’s “Secret Samadhi” and “The Dolphin’s Cry” from 1999’s “The Distance to Here.”
The main set ended with a knockout performance of “Selling the Drama,” the band’s first No. 1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, “Shit Towne,” yet another standout from “Throwing Copper” and “Lakini’s Juice,” the hard charging No. 1 hit from “Secret Samadhi.”
“We love you Wilkes-Barre, thanks for coming out tonight,” Shinn said as the main set came to a close. “Can I get an ‘Amen’?”
After a very brief retreat from the stage, guitarist Taylor emerged first and began the famous intro to “Lightning Crashes.” Soon his bandmates joined in and everyone in the packed showroom was singing along with the second chart topper from “Throwing Copper.”
Opening the show Saturday was Zed D’ Lance, an alternative band from Saylorsburg who are long-time fans and friends with Live (Live drummer Gracey named the group).
Vocalist Chris Zelenka had a great stage presence as the five-piece worked its way through a half hour of original tunes and covers. The band’s final song, a cover of “Closer” by The Gracious Few (a Live spin-off group consisting of Dahlheimer, Gracey and Taylor along with Candlebox’s Kevin Martin and Sean Hennesy) went over big.