Live at the Lexington 13.11.13
Recorded at London's intimate venue The Lexington 25 years after the release of their eponymous Creation Records debut, the House of Love's first proper live album offers plenty of the spark and craftsmanship that made their early records so captivating. The release follows the second of their late-career studio album, 2013's She Paints Words in Red, and features several of that album's highlights like the wistful title cut and the jangling "Baby Got Back on Its Feet." With the exception of bassist Matt Jury, the lineup here is the same one that existed in the band's late-'80s heyday with the dynamic combo of singer/guitarist Guy Chadwick and lead guitarist Terry Bickers joined by original drummer Pete Evans. Their brand of pleasing, melodic guitar pop has aged well with classic tracks like "Christine," "Hope," and "Beatles and the Stones" taking on a graceful air of timelessness. Unlike many acts from their same era, these songs feel as effective delivered by middle-aged pop veterans as they did by ambitious young rockers. The vantage point is different and the tone a bit more subdued, but there's a relaxed feeling to Chadwick's delivery, and Bickers' guitar playing is still nimble and confident if not quite as fiery as before. The set list certainly plays to the hits and is dominated by early material like "Destroy the Heart," "Road," "Se Dest," and "Shine On." The new songs are tucked in neatly enough and material from their 2005 reunion album, Days Run Away, is ignored completely. Fans seeking the sound of the band's younger days can turn to 2009's Live at the BBC compilation, but this show at The Lexington is a strong effort by a very capable band with a lot less to prove.