Live Here Now
Words by Greg Walker
Fan entitlement often misinterprets the combining of metal or rock with a symphony as self-indulgent, the results of which can often be viewed to be more beneficial to the artists’ wants and needs than those of the paying fans, looking at Metallica most famously and Entombed most curiously.
That is until you throw Don Broco‘s eclectic fusions into the mix and discover some semblance of what the artist must feel when developing extended musical adaptations to their compositions. Pushing the boundaries of metal, rock, pop, electronic and now symphonic elements via the Charity Symphony Orchestra, Don Broco deftly utilises the vast array of instrumentation now available to build structural support, colour in the edges, build tension and emotion, and create a more explosive punch to their already punchy songs.
The Royal Albert Hall has hosted some quality live recordings over the years, most immediate in mind is Devin Townsend‘s Ziltoid Live as a pinnacle, in the metal genres at least. Opening a week of gigs in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust, Live From The Royal Albert Hall is a quality archiving of the Don Broco live performance with a thorough sonic enhancement that never overpowers the source material and is mostly seamless in its inclusion.
Creating an intro of a wonderfully gradual growing tension, the Charity Symphony Orchestra colours in the hopeful tone of opener Come Out To L.A., fashioning an enveloping soundscape that is a beautiful natural extension of the original. In hindsight a lot of Don Broco’s work suggests it might bloom as part of this particular project and Swimwear Season works in the more delicate moments, however, I can’t help but think if the symphony took more of a step back in the heavier post-chorus it could serve the song better. But that’s why Don Broco are where they are, and I’m here writing about their exploits! Having said that, Swimwear Season’s bridge section is gorgeous and works flawlessly.
On Further the cohesion unfurls as massively anthemic, a triumphant uplift of positivity that is only an improvement on the original as far as the emotion that emanates. The strings build in an intro that eventually grows into the climactic crescendo, this odyssey of a track sounds like it was originally conceived to achieve this result. Guest vocals by Andrew Convey and Amy Hollinrake complete the arrangement nicely, and Further is definitely my pic of the album by far, the quality of the composition noticeably pushes further than the rest of the track listing. Simply stratospheric.
Another highlight is the massive Uber, clearly a fan favourite we can hear the crowd above the ensemble of performers, the orchestra understated yet hugely present and an almost indispensable support for the flourish and punch of such a hefty song. Nerve is another song benefiting from the boost a boundless palette offers, another outing rich in elation. Andrew Convey and Amy Hollinrake return to provide what amounts to a spectacular sounding choral backing that is sweeping in its enormity.
From the beginning I’ve resisted the urge to immediately skip to One True Prince, I felt this piece would be elevated to another plane by the expansive symphonic underpinning, and I was not disappointed. An incredible song to begin with, the extra orchestral arrangements allow the yin and yang between the subdued verses and enormous chorus to blossom with elegance, the stunning post-bridge simply soaring.
Technology is well served by the harmonic scores, as are Easter Sunday, Pretty, Everybody, T-Shirt Song, and crowd favourite Gumshield, but a couple of tracks are noticeable in their exclusion. The overall experiment has piqued enough of an interest to have me wondering how Bruce Willis would’ve translated. I’m assuming a time constraint is the reason, otherwise this was a grossly negligent oversight considering the performance of Bruce Willis was the undisputed highlight of the Brisbane show earlier this year. Personal favourite Manchester Super Reds No.1 Fan is also a glaring omission, it would’ve been interesting to see how it would’ve been tackled at least.
Although it does come across as a self-service to a degree, Don Broco Live from The Royal Albert Hall is excused, having been a wildly successful venture bringing attention to the Teenage Cancer Trust.
This release is entirely listenable, however will largely be relegated to an occasionally revisited curio for me rather than a staple, but I’ll certainly be forking out my hard-earned to show support for a band I love and respect, as well as to contribute to a noble cause.