I had the good fortune to see Nada Surf in Sydney last year, and they were a very good live outfit, with Matthew Caws' singing, in particular, impressing. This is a recording from an earlier 2003 show, in front of a raucous Belgian audience, and whilst enjoyable, suffers from the same complaints as most live albums i.e. pleasant enough, but you really had to be there. The slightly ramshackle encores "Popular" and "The Way You Wear Your Head" are a case in point - it's not until you read the sleeve note that you realise they were joined on stage by sections of the audience. Unfortunately it doesn't translate well and sounds fairly shabby. The guitar/bass/drums format seems to limit the band as well, inhibiting certain songs - "Hi Speed Soul" in particular seems stuck in second gear (no such problem in Sydney where they had a keyboard player for the whole show which added warmth and depth to the sound). However, there are superb renditions of "Blizzard of 77" and "Amateur", and it's thrilling to hear Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" shoehorned seamlessly into "Stalemate". It's amusing to hear the band's perfect French banter with the audience, something which, along with their frequent French sung songs, clearly endear them to a European audience. In short, a solid, if unexceptional release...I'm off to hunt for an alleged French only live DVD from the "Let's Go" tour!