Thursday, 12 February 2015

Underrated Live Albums #3: Pacifier/Shihad - "Live"

Shihad are one of the most successful New Zealand-originated bands, whose success was derailed in America due to a name change and an unfortunate series of world events...

The name "Shihad" is a distortion of the word "Jihad", as used in the 1984 film Dune. However the band members couldn't work out how to spell the word and they ended up with Shihad.

Four albums into their career and they were a multi-platinum success in Australia, but when it came time to break in America with album number five, an unfortunate thing happened...

Two planes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City on September the 11th 2001. These actions were deemed to be part of a holy war by Islamic terrorists known as a Jihad, and and such the name Shihad could not continue to be used in the USA, for obvious reasons.

They changed their name after a successful single from their previous album "The General Electric" known as "Pacifier". It was the favourite song of vocalist Jon Toogood's mother.

In 2004 the band decided to change it back as they wisely decided that Pacifier was a crap name. However, under that moniker, they released a career-spanning live document that stands as one of the greatest live records ever made.

With a fat, gritty sound, an unceasing ensemble energy and a supercharged crowd, the album is the musical equivalent of a proton energy pill.

The song selection hammers home the point that the band were actually quite solid songwriters, something the production on their studios albums does its best to mask. The consistently strong song selection suggests that their best songs were not always singles but also tucked away as deep cuts on albums and EPs.

The only real let down is that Jon Toogood's stage banter is awkward and suggests he's quite fond of using a certain four letter expletive. Despite this, the music is uniformly solid and pounding. The one slow point on the album is towards the end of side two (of the limited vinyl edition) where "The Brightest Star" slows proceedings to a crawl, before launching into a brutal version of "My Mind's Sedate". Their most successful song "Home Again" closes off the album on a high point. The audience sings along at every point and always fills in the words at the band's insistence, especially in "Run" and "Comfort Me".

This is one hell of an album and well worth the listen as an introduction for those that are unfamiliar to the band. This could almost be a greatest hits album considering it cherry-picks the highlights of the band's first ten years...

Take a listen again below.

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