Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors - 'Capital Spirits - An Acoustic Evening Live In London' (Fanny Pack Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Ben Hughes   
Thursday, 18 May 2017 04:00

Ryan Hamilton live album coverLive albums can be hit and miss affairs. How many times have you excitedly put on the new live album from your favourite band to discover it just doesn't live up to expectations? Maybe it's just not as good as the studio record or that it lacks the energy of the live show? 


Turns out capturing your favourite band at their best is not as easy as it should be… But, someone tell that to Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors, as they seem to have no problems delivering a great live album. The sort of live album that captures the magic of the moment, and the electricity (I know its acoustic!) of a great live band. Of course, it helps to have a bunch of top tunes to fill your set and a charismatic frontman with a top band to perform them.


Remember those ‘MTV Unplugged’ performances and albums back in the ‘90s? From Nirvana and Alice In Chains onto Lenny Kravitz and Aerosmith, they all just seemed to capture the band perfectly. And this live album has that same feel. All of this comes together with a few key magical ingredients: an intimate album release show in a London church with a few hundred close fans that Ryan Hamilton likes to call friends, a tight rhythm section in the Traitors (that's Rob Lane on bass and Mickey Richards on drums for the uninitiated), a quality production and, of course, a whole bunch of killer power pop tunes.


"Can you say fuck in a church?" says Ryan Hamilton prior to opening song 'The Gulf Of Mexico'. You can, he did and he didn't go to Hell for saying it. The sparse sound of just drums, bass and acoustic guitar lends itself perfectly to the more laid back approach that differs from the original album version, transforming a power pop anthem into a more countrified affair, and that's just how the album pans out.


There's a Tom Petty vibe to Ryan's songwriting and vocals as it is, and on this acoustic recording it is even more prominent. The country rock influences shine through in this environment, giving a Ryan Adams/Butch Walker vibe, which is right up my street. The addition of some piano and female backing vocals and the lowering of the tempo take the likes of 'Scottish Mud' to a different place than the album version and it's a a good place to be.


Here, 'Smarter' is still upbeat, still euphoric and 'Records And Needles' is... well it's 'Records And Needles' innit, one of his finest moments. The audience lap it up and I imagine will be thrilled to relive the night and the magic that the band created.


The closing 'Ode To The Idiots' is a hidden closing track on the excellent 'The Devil's In The Detail' album. A rip-roaring slice of cowpunk that tips its hat to Jason & The Scorchers and is delivered here with the same energy and style, very cool indeed.


'Capital Spirits' captures the atmosphere of an intimate acoustic show perfectly and the energy and humour of a Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors live performance. The irony? This great live album is only available digitally, so I had to purchase it on the dreaded iTunes. But maybe if enough of us buy it, he will be able to get some physical versions out, maybe on vinyl with a gatefold sleeve? (here's hoping) and believe you me, you will be wanting one to put on your shelf alongside those other great live albums. 


'Capital Spirits - An Acoustic Evening Live In London' is out now.




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