Sound — 9
getAmped's first live album (and their third album out of four), Live at the Mean Fiddler clocks in at less than half an hour with 8 songs, an intro and a drum solo. With the tempo creeping up a few bmp from their album versions the 'live vibe' is firmly established, helped along by the crowd banter including the line, "this song is about a big toothy monster that used to rule the world..." getAmped sound confident on the stage but still drag the crowd in and interact with them, and it is this attitude which will get them far. That said, you can't often hear the crowd singing along to the songs as you can with other live albums and I don't know if this is due to how/where the album was recorded live or whether the crowd just didn't sing along! getAmped show-cased a number of their new songs such as From Paradise to Pain, Down to Us and Nothing's Forever off their (at the time) forthcoming self-titled new album (released 2007) and, by and large, they mimicked the same quality of song-writing that their older songs contain. I was a little disappointed with In the Dark and will admit to skipping that one song a few times, but Down to Us is a perfect example of how getAmped can take a well stepped lyrical subject and make it their own infectious type of rock. Alongside these newer songs they also played (arguably) their best and catchiest songs off of Phoney Society and Postcards from Hell; Reject and Sterilise, Tyrannosaurus and Phoney Society. The energy never lets up, even for the slower songs and you can tell from Rick and Tim's voices that they've given it their all.
Lyrics — 8
Rick and Tim's vocal take on that rough edge known all to well to live singers but rather than detract at all from the album their vocals just remind you that this isn't a studio album, and they're enjoying this as much as you and their audience. Rick and Tim don't have the more unique voices of other rock singers but they use their singing skills to great effect, creating a vocal wall over the instruments during the choruses. The lyrical content of getAmped's songs have remained consistent throughout all their albums, although maturing with each one, and modern day issues are set against a backdrop of the catchiest blend of rock, punk and pop. Down to Us, in particular, is a strong example of their lyrical directions, a song based on the fact they don't believe there is a god who'll sort everything out for us and that our problems are down to us to deal with. This is a theme which occurs quite frequently in getAmped songs and, off this live album, Tyrannosaurus and Phoney Society also press the subject that we're messing up our lives and the world around us and only we can sort it out. Some people may find this theme becomes repetitive but I think getAmped's songs are different enough to allow them to push this theme further.
Overall Impression — 9
It must be said that once you take away the intro and drum solo, this album has no songs on it which you can't get off their other albums, and with only 8 songs some people may think of it as just a stop-gap and a waste of money. I will agree that this album is perhaps more for established fans of getAmped. That said, the energy from the band as they perform live, the variations on the songs and the extended jams at the end of the songs mean that for the 7 this album cost me I am not disappointed. On top of this, once again, getAmped took the time out to sign all the copies of Live at the Mean Fiddler they sold through their website and that gesture helps to give this album a more personal edge which makes that 7 even more well spent. As said before I was disappointed with the song In the Dark but very impressed with all the other songs and it is because of this album that I will be buying their new self-titled release. All in all, a great first live album for a band that are becoming close to being great.