In Spaceland: Nov. 15th, 2006
The Drones aren’t famous for their live show in particular, even though on a good night they can coax a fervour most musicians only dream of. It’s their albums that are critically untouchable and their first official live record drives that home, with a mix of songs played badly, brilliantly and a few places in between. Recorded at the Los Angeles indie club of the same name, In Spaceland* includes tracks from all three albums, as well as the double LP of B-sides, *The Miller’s Daughter, and some slightly embarrassing banter.
?I’m Here Now?, probably the finest of Gareth Liddiard’s tales of miserable and ill-fated characters, suffers the most. The singer snarls the quiet lines and barks out the rest without any of the album version’s tenderness, while the band stumble through the song, out of touch with each other. Live favourites ?Sharkfin Blues? and ?She Had An Abortion That She Made Me Pay For? are okay, but less than breathtaking in the sober light of day.
It’s not until the last tracks that The Drones really hit their stride, when the gig turns down an even darker road. As the scrawl of the previous song fades away, a bass guitar claws its way out of the Beasts Of Bourbon’s swamp-rock songbook. ?Well, ya see the miller’s daughter, Lord?/She’s uh dancin? with the boys-s-s,? Liddiard hisses. A huge, sodden cloud of noise lurches back and forth like a broken metronome as he tells of ?The pine box blonde bitch? with ?Legs like gun barrels?. Before the din dies out, the band are off on ?The Downbound Train? like they’re playing the same song, but faster. The carriages hurtle off the tracks about three minutes in, but they keep playing for another six anyway.