Live Is Back
'90s rock hit makers give back to their hometown with more than just music, and they are bringing that back too.
A wise person once told me - “You know you are old when you live to see one of your favorite bands change lead singers.” They were right – I do feel old – but I am also ecstatic, and I’m not the only one. The 1,200 people gathered at the Strand in Live’s hometown of York, Pennsylvania were just as thrilled as I was to welcome Chris Shinn to the front man position that was made vacant by singer Ed Kowalczyk in 2009.
The show was a homecoming “tour dress rehearsal” for the three original members of Live - guitarist Chad Taylor, drummer Chad Gracey, and bassist Patrick Dahlheimer - who put York on the map in the mid ‘90s with a string of radio hits including the eternal “Lightning Crashes.” It felt like a homecoming for Chris Shinn as well. Shinn has been around a long time, working with past and present members of groups like Blind Melon and Pearl Jam, but he has never found a place to really shine. The music business is tough, and Chris has been on the verge of breaking wide open since his career started.
He has definitely found a home in Live and their city.
When I say homecoming I mean it. I met the bass player’s mother for goodness sakes (she is so sweet!). What set this homecoming apart is how Chad, Chad, and Patrick are giving back to their community. York, PA has fallen on hard times. The band even wrote several songs about that very subject on their multi-platinum smash Throwing Copper. But rather than abandon the town in the wake of their fame, the guys have decided to invest in it – literally. They are working to bring business to York in the form of building renovations and helping out musicians who are trying to make it just like they did. It’s no small feat, but that makes the work all the more admirable - and you know you are doing something right when the mayor comes out to a rock show just to thank you.
Despite the apparent good the band hopes to do for its town, the announcement of a new lead singer won’t arrive without controversy in the communities who still follow Live. The departure of Ed Kowalczyk was controversial at best, but there was an air of sincerity that was unprecedented at such an event. “There’s no bad blood” said a clearly humbled Chris Shinn before one of the final songs, “I’m so blessed to be here.” It was a very real moment in the midst of a show that featured more rock bravado than you could shake a Les Paul at.