Live albums occupy a strange place in record collections. A few, like The Who’s ‘Live At Leeds’, capture a moment so vital they encapsulate a band’s very soul. Most, with their in-jokes and sycophantic applause, deserve to be branded with “for obsessive fans”, as only completists need B-sides stretched-out for 13 minutes.
For their first major live album, Dave Grohl hasn’t chosen to document Foo Fighters at their lung-busting, feral loudest. Those wanting the “rock show” have to wait for next month’s download-only ‘Live At Hyde Park’. Instead, ‘Skin And Bones’ documents this summer’s acoustic tour.
Recorded in Los Angeles and largely comprising ‘In Your Honour’’s quieter disc, the set demonstrates not only Dave Grohl’s musical ambition, but the dexterity of a man once solely famed for bashing skins in a grunge band.
From the raw solo performance of ‘Razor’, to the strings and percussion-augmented ‘Times Like These’, the Foos not only sound comfortable in their acoustic surroundings, they thrive in it. As the tear-stained beauty of Grohl-penned, Nirvana B-side ‘Marigold’ proves, he’s hidden away for too long a subtle, tender edge that would give the likes of Ryan Adams a run for his money.
Without the filth and the fury of an amped-up Foo Fighters, ‘Skin And Bones’ can’t be their definitive live album, but by capturing a band evolving right before your ears it’s a fascinating insight into where Grohl’s head is currently at and where it’s going.