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  • Writer's pictureLucy Skeet

ALBUM REVIEW: Bleachers - 'Live At Radio City Music Hall'

Alternative six-piece Bleachers have released their first live album, recorded last July as part of their 'Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night' tour. Across its 21 track run, the album features covers, special guests, killer saxophone solos and heart to heart conversations. It is absolutely everything that a live record should be; bursting with life, energy, passion, and creativity.

The setlist opens with '91', a track about frontman Jack Antonoff’s youth and growing up in New Jersey. The strings are spectacular and you can hear the crowd going wild already. It fades into 'Dream Of Mickey Mantle', a fan-favourite and one that has only been performed live on this tour. The song, named for baseball star Mickey Mantle, is not actually about him at all, but about grief, loss and change. Antonoff has stated that it’s also about the dream-like state that we experience just before waking up. Live, it is absolutely monumental, with synths exploding, drums crashing and lively vocals that are perfect to sing along to.

“New York City!” Antonoff yells as the intro to 'Wild Heart' kicks in and the crowd scream back in response. “Well, everything has changed/And now it’s only you that matters/I will find any way to your wild heart” he delivers. Just before they break into 'How Dare You Want More', a single from their latest album, Antonoff says “let’s just go for it, let’s just blow the place up” and the audience once again scream back at him in agreement.

A clear highlight of the album is 'Everybody Lost Somebody', a song with saxophone so gorgeous and heartfelt it will make anyone emotional. “This song is called Everybody Lost Somebody and it goes out to every single person in this building, let’s do it!” he exclaims. Antonoff wrote the song with his sister’s death in mind and went on to say: “Everyone has experienced loss in some way, and this song speaks about dealing with the grief that comes afterwards". The amount of heart and soul that went into this track really pours out during this performance.

Another highlight is 'All My Heroes', a song that has a whole different sound live, particularly the much more raw production. It opens with defiant drums, synths bubbling away and jangly electric guitar. “All the nights I don’t remember/Are the ones I can’t forget/When all your heroes get tired/I’ll be something better yet” he sings. There is another glorious saxophone solo and it runs throughout the bridge, definitely one of the highlights of this performance. The outro is simply stunning, the saxophone building, reaching a beautiful peak, and then slowly fading out.

The band then go straight into a cover of 'Jersey Girl' by Tom Waits. “This is almost true” Antonoff says before singing the line “I’m in love with a midtown girl” singing of his now wife Margaret Qualley, daughter of actress Andie MacDowell.

“This is my song I wrote about Jersey, and please welcome the finest Bruce Springsteen” he intros for 'Chinatown', and the crowd lose it as expected. The track is a gorgeous love song at its core, sparkling with pure emotion.

There is a track on this album called 'Juno Interlude', and during it Antonoff talks about how a Juno 6 synthesiser inspired him to start the band. It is a heart-warming conversation as he talks about playing the first notes for the band’s 2014 single 'Rollercoaster', the first song he ever wrote for Bleachers. His crowd interaction strikes the perfect balance, just the perfect number of anecdotes to offer insights on the music without becoming tiresome and his endless passion for music and playing live just seeps out of every part of this record, which makes for a beautiful listening experience.

Before performing '45' Jack talks about the writing of it, how it was written during lockdown, as he looked out of his apartment window and felt unsettled at how empty the streets of New York were. “I’m damn grateful to get to play it for you” he tells the crowd. Midway through the song, he tells them that Bleachers don’t do encores and that they will play until they can no longer stand. It’s the last slow track before they take it to another level yet again, the last four songs reaching energy levels that most artists could only hope to achieve at the start of a set, let alone the end. Everything about this record screams passion, enthusiasm, and just pure love for music. You can hear just how talented every band member is, and they all shine so incredibly brightly.


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