As a long-time music collector, I’m amazed I had never heard an album by The Clarks. Hugely popular in their hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but virtually unknown elsewhere, even though the Clarks have been together almost 20 years, even appearing on Late Night With David Letterman.
Still Live is one of the best live records I’ve heard in a couple of years and makes me want to investigate the band's previous releases. Recorded during a four-night stand at Pittsburgh’s Small’s Theatre in December 2005, Still Live showcases The Clarks skills as a live band. Lead singer Scott Blasey’s voice takes command of the songs and blends well with Greg Joseph and Dave Minarik’s pounding rhythm section. Add in Rob James’ soulful guitar, and you have all of the ingredients necessary for great rock and soul-tinged music.
Still Live will draw you in from the first note. In “I’m Better Off Without You,” Blasey’s sense of fun shines through. The first time I heard it, I thought of the J. Geils Band during their Peter Wolf days, but with an extra cup of soul. The up-tempo “Butterflies and Airplanes” will have you tapping your foot. The Clarks also have a flair for blue-collar rock, which is brilliantly demonstrated on “Nothing’s Wrong Nothing’s Right.”
The companion DVD includes 79 minutes of concert footage, recorded on the first night at the Small's Theatre. The band performs 18 songs. The multi-camera shoot captures several different angles, band close-ups, and shots of excited audience members singing along. The stage at Mr. Small's Theatre is small, but since the Clarks don't move around the stage much it doesn't matter.
The DVD also includes 25 minutes of interviews with the band members, giving insight into how they got started, what they're like personally, and how they write their songs. The interviews provide interesting information if you’re a fan and give you a chance to get to know the band if this is your first exposure to them.
After listening to Still Live it is easy to see why a band that has only experienced regional success has sold over 250,000 albums. It becomes immediately obvious after only a couple of minutes into the first song The Clarks love performing for a live audience. Scott Blasey said of performing live, “It’s still a good time to be onstage … we still get turned on by it.”