Album Review: Live at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles // MUNA

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Taking place over two nights in October in 2023, MUNA’s performances at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles is described as a dream come true for the band. Performing over twenty songs each night, the setlists were combined and mixed into an album; released one week after a surprise announcement. As a live album, it features no new songs, only a recontextualisation of current material.

Blending tracks from over three studio albums and one single, Live at the Greek weaves together the three eras of the band with ease, linking songs based on mood and feeding off the audience’s energy in order to create something truly magic.

Beginning with ‘What I Want’ and ‘Number One Fan’, Live at The Greek starts off on a note of pure celebration with two party anthems perfect for unapologetic dancing. Working as sister tracks, ‘Number One Fan’ is a mantra of self love and confidence building while ‘What I Want’ is about shaking off shame and repression and embracing self indulgence. On each of these opening tracks Gavin’s vocals are somewhat on the shakier side, however the tightness of the instrumentals and a strong drumline keep the hype building. In ‘Number One Fan’, the crowd is also there to catch her, screaming out the lyrics with such force they could convince even the most insecure listener.

What works best about Live at The Greek is the way it finds harmony between the three previous albums, highlighting the band’s clear evolution, both thematically and musically. While some older material, such as ‘Stayaway’ and ‘Loudspeaker’ feel the most smooth with regards to Gavin’s vocals, there is something exciting about their newer tracks which highlight the power in their instrumentals. ‘No Idea’ finds the best harmony between all elements, including impressive backing vocals by McPherson.

As the album progresses, it moves from its upbeat opening into a more emotionally charged phase giving the group’s vocals and guitars a moment to really shine. The harmonies in ‘Never’ and ‘Loose Garment’ are breathtaking and the soft prog rock ballad ‘Shooting Star’ has never sounded better. Introduced as “the heart of this [latest] record”, ‘Kind of Girl’ is presented as featuring the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles but unfortunately they don’t come through particularly clear on the track (or perhaps they blend into the crowd too well). However, it is still a beautiful song which feels long perfected compared to some of the other more recent tracks.

Providing moments of levity, Live at The Greek also demonstrates the band’s sense of humour, making it a super fun album to listen to. Heard in the banter they share with each other and with the audience but it’s also noticeable in the way they poke fun at their past (perhaps more serious) selves as they play. In ‘Everything’ McPherson gives us a snippet of screamo singing, intensifying an already emotional track, and in ‘Loudspeaker’ Gavin can be heard exaggerating her unique vocal pronunciations. There’s a clear sense of self awareness while also giving these beloved tracks from their first album the respect they deserve.

Closing out the album is a streak of heavy hitters. Electropop bangers ‘Anything But Me’, ‘One That Got Away’, and ‘Home By Now’ are crowd pleasers featuring an animated Gavin and plenty of guitar and drums to dance along to. ‘I Know a Place’ is an emotionally charged safe space of a song about unity which best emphasises the crowd’s role as backing choir. And finally, ‘Silk Chiffon’ featuring Phoebe Bridgers.

By recreating the full experience of a live show, MUNA invites everyone to join in and experience the chaos, love, and queer joy alongside them while they live out their dreams. A beautiful showcase of their career to date, this album is very much a gift for fans, old and new. For anyone yet to experience MUNA live, this is absolutely the next best thing.

Words by Camille Murray


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