Nottingham legends As December Falls have recently released their first live album, recorded in their 450 capacity home town venue, which is their biggest headline show to date. The move of releasing a live album before a debut recorded album is an unusual one, however As December Falls frequently sell out venues and have performed all over the UK.
Opening to a cheering crowd with Everything You Say, the listener immediately notices the presence of vocal effects through the introduction. However in the recording, each instrument is balanced well within the mix, which is a difficult feat when capturing a live show, however at points there is very little mid range between the lead guitar line and the bass. There is rhythm guitar present, it’s just very quiet compared to the other instruments. However this appears to be sorted by the time Let Go crops up, and isn’t noticeable at all to the average listener.
Cross My Heart is immediately more upbeat than the previous track, however it doesn’t grab the listener’s attention when compared to Everything You Say. Here it becomes apparent that the actual lyrics are difficult to distinguish, however vocalist Bethany Curtis’ voice carries well across the live venue and is never out of tune. During this track the group interact with the audience, and the listener begins to miss having a visual image of the performance. However it is probably too premature in As December Fall‘s career for a DVD of a live performance.
As December Falls have cleverly grouped their tracks together, opening with their more upbeat tracks, before performing an edgier track in the middle of the album, starting with Keep Dreaming. The crowd are still pumped from the preceeding few tracks, and it audibly shows in the performance from the band. After Keep Dreaming is Royals, another upbeat track but quite toned down in tempo and genre when compared to the first few songs.
The first track using broken chords comes in during the latter part of the album. Thing I (Don’t) Want still makes use of the major key and fairly quick tempo, however the deceptive part is the arpeggiated theme, tricking the listener into thinking it will be a slower song.
It’s clear which songs are fan favourites, as notably Don’t Say A Word provides the best crowd reaction. Clearly the ambience of the venue has been mixed down so the band can actually be heard, and turned back up when appropriate. Other crowd pleasers are More To You and Capture.
The performance and the recording aren’t perfect – there are mic screeches present in places, for example. However these flaws provide a human experience for the listener, and it’s easy for them to imagine the actual performance. As December Falls provide a very real live album, and their decision to release a live album ahead of recording their debut studio album shows their confidence in their own performance. Additionally, they are not backed by a record label or management, making the fact that they’ve managed to record a live album of a sold out headline show even more incredible.