THE DISLIKED - The Royal Show

The Disliked - The Royal Show

13 songs
43:47 minutes
***** ***


The Disliked began in 2002 as a rather noisy and chaotic punk band, but soon integrated other musical styles such as ska and rocksteady, and even some blues and jazz. While the debut Fresh Taste (2005) was still rooted deeply in punk, the follow-up My Parents Went To Eldorado… (2008) showed the band from a considerably matured angle, with the ska parts taking over. They decided to take things even a little further and played two quickly sold-out unplugged shows at L’Inouļ, a small location not even holding 100 spectators. The huge success of this experiment encouraged the band to release a live album (containing recordings of the second show) to make their unplugged set accessible to a broader audience.

It’s quite telling that The Royal Show doesn’t contain any songs from the debut. About two thirds of the tracks are from the last studio album, while the remaining time is filled with new material. The sound is clean and transparent, but it’s still obvious that this is not a studio recording. The band is actively seeking contact with the audience that can be heard cheering and singing along. The Disliked sound less aggressive than ever, the brass section has more weight as they don’t have to compete with electric guitars. The tracklist is quite successful. All the classics (Mary, Miss V.I.P., My Profile,…) are present, but also the lesser known tracks from the second album are done with a lot of class. Lucky #8 comes with a strong party atmosphere, and also Why Do I Cry maintains its momentum. Their new material convinces mostly with Party All Night Long and the chilled out Skansky. Is It Worth All This? sounds a little cheesy but still fits into the unplugged setlist. Unfortunately some pieces disappoint. I Want It All And I Want It Now is too quiet and folky, and could as well have been expected from local folk rockers Dream Catcher. Another weaker moment comes with the overly mellow Robbery.

Even though I don’t like every song on the album and I also prefer the band’s electric variant, I have to applaud them for The Royal Show. I can’t think of any other ska band choosing to play unplugged, and this alone is already very innovative. When all is said and done, what counts is the band’s unmistakable joy of playing!

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