Marramgrass

Live, two.

(Continuing the occasional series.)

The second of the two live albums I'm revisiting is Across A Wire: Live In New York City by the Counting Crows. The first Counting Crows album I bought — and I went on to buy them all and turn up at many gigs — I listened to it again and again. I still return to it regularly, and it captures me every single time.

Counting Crows studio albums, with the exception of 1996's Recovering the Satellites and isolated tracks on other albums, tend towards the slightly soporific; the live album is anything but.

Across A Wire is actually more like two albums: the first disc is a selection from a mostly acoustic Storytellers set for VH-1, while the second is a much harder set for MTV. Both are raw and emotional, giving the songs the edge that most of the studio albums lack. These are the recordings with which I can turn out the lights, put on the 'phones and listen, over and over. Highlights are most of the VH-1 disc, plus "Round Here", "A Long December" and "Have You Seen Me Lately?" from the MTV disc.

The Counting Crows get a rough ride. Their albums don't always help, but as a live act they are well-worth making the effort to see. These two discs manage to capture some of that life.