Up-and-coming Pennsylvania quartet Live easily transcended the dingy basement quality of Raji's on Sunday night with an uplifting set of punk-pop that proved both poignant and powerful. Without a doubt, Live's secret weapon is vocalist Ed Kowalczyk, a thoughtful and talented singer-songwriter flourishing in a group context. On its two albums, Live often shows a resemblance to R.E.M., with intense, low-key, well-crafted songs coupled with intelligent, provocative lyrics. In concert, though, Kowalczyk exudes a quietly intense charm that helps the band's dynamic material come to life.
While Kowalczyk and solid, aggressive drummer Chad Gracey proved a strong team, the group's guitarist, Chad Taylor, and bassist, Patrick Dahlheimer, were workmanlike at best, not fully holding up their part of the musical bargain.
Still, not much could disturb the appealing candor of the songs from Live's latest "Throwing Copper" album, notably the compelling "All Over You" and the warm and edgy "Selling the Drama."