Against Me! – 23 Live Sex Acts
If there was a band who were beyond due releasing another live album it was Against Me! Too often live albums are simply released to fulfil contract obligations or as money spinners but with so much happening to Against Me!, and namely front-woman Laura Jane Grace, since 2006 it more than seems like an apt time in the band’s career to release the superbly titled 23 Live Sex Acts.
23 Live Sex Acts is the band’s second live album proper and was recorded during the 2014 tour that supported their starkly honest and groundbreaking sixth album Transgender Dysphoria Blues; an album that will surely go down in history as one of the most socially relevant rock albums of a generation.
Out of the 23 tracks on offer only 6 made it onto the previous live album Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!! Live In London!!!, showing the dire need for an updated live chapter in the band’s discography! And unlike most live albums, where the track listing is usually a recording of a night’s complete gig, 23 Live Sex Acts was compiled using three months’ worth of recorded audio with the band cherry picking the best versions of the tracks they wanted to feature. This of course makes for a fantastic live album.
From the album’s beginning on ‘FUCKMYLIFE666′ with its extended intro and war cry statement of intent from Grace to “Let’s fuck shit up” you really garner a sense of anticipation and fervour that usually precedes an Against Me! concert such is the energy and passion exerted. Next up is live favourite ‘Pints Of Guiness Make You Strong’ from the 2002 debut album ‘Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose‘ swiftly followed by ‘Cliché Guevara’ from 2003′s follow up album ‘Against Me! as the Eternal Cowboy‘; these blistering inclusions so early on in the set really testify to the strength and importance of the band’s early material.
Given the impressive arsenal of songs from which Against Me! can pick, it comes as no surprise that there is very little let up during proceedings. ‘True Trans Soul Rebel’, another from last year’s ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues‘ is introduced by Grace as “a song about celebrating gender variation as something of beauty” and is sung reciprocally as it is lovingly between Grace and crowd with all the passion you would expect.
Amongst the album’s many highlights are the songs from 2010′s critically acclaimed album White Crosses with blistering versions of fan favourite and eternally catchy ‘I Was A Teenage Anarchist’, the soulful sing-a-long that is the album’s pro-choice title track and ‘High Pressure Low’ with its driving bass lines. A few songs find their word’s altered or sung differently on 23 Live Sex Acts than they are on their studio album counterparts, none more effectively than the superb rendition of ‘Thrash Unreal’ which reverberates still.
One interesting moment on the album is halfway through ‘New Wave’ when Laura Jane Grace suddenly stops the performance in order to berate a security guard who she sees is ejecting an over enthusiastic fan from the venue. While this is admirable and something we would expect from Grace, the fact that the songs were hand picked for the album makes it seem slightly odd for the band to not have included a complete version of ‘New Wave’ from another night instead of half of it and a rant at a bouncer! This of course is nit-picking but it did seem a strange albeit interesting inclusion.
All in all 23 Live Sex Acts is an excellent recording; a greatest hits live album if you will that adequately spans the band’s already near 18 year history. If you have ever witnessed an Against Me! show before then you’ll be acutely aware of the energy that Grace and company bring to the stage and 23 Live Sex Acts genuinely captures that essence and punk rock energy in abundance.Against Me! - 23 Live Sex Acts,