The Black Session: Paris, 10 May 2011 was recorded for the French radio show “C’est Lenoir” at Maison de Radio and finds the legends focusing on the poppier side of their catalog – if, indeed, there is such a thing – including songs from the 1970s, 1980s and (primarily) their 2010 release Red Barked Tree.

 

Because of the setting, much of the performance has a subdued feel, as evidenced by the first three tracks: “Adapt,” “Smash,” and “Comet,” the heaviest of the trifecta, which still manages to maintain a laid-back vibe. The Black Session reaches its peak though, with the uplifting melody and dark lyrics of “Please Take,” the pacey shuffle of “Clay,” and in the shimmering chords of perhaps the album’s most infectious cut, “Kidney Bingos.”

 

The next half-dozen offerings are a bit more hit-and-miss, the best being probably found between the thumping bass and spoken vocal of “Drill,” and the all-out sonic attack  of “Two People in a Room”.  Even as the band’s encore, the title track of its classic 1977 debut Pink Flag, goes on for nearly 11 minutes, it still holds up well.

 

Like many live albums, The Black Session serves as either a nice introduction to the band for newbies, or an enjoyable compilation of beloved songs performed well. Either way, we say: Merci beaucoup.