Live occupied an odd spot in the alternative rock of the ‘90s. They were hugely popular as a band unafraid of the grandiose histrionics that made U2 the most celebrated band of that decade and still they insisted on remaining ordinary guys. All these years later, their leader, singer Ed Kowalczyk, returns with his first solo album and it’s filled with anthems that arch heavenward. His singing is his own, but he owes a stylistic debt to Bono and Eddie Vedder. In some ways, he’s more satisfying than Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, since Kowalczyk hits notes without making it sound like a major interruption in his day. He throws his arms around the world with big, bad, and bold atmospherics on “Drive,” “The Great Beyond” and “Stand.” “Grace” is the sound of the most unlikely rock hero coming down from the mountain with memories of late-‘70s Rush in his head. Even a ballad like “Zion” percolates with grander ambitions. For fans who fondly remember Throwing Copper, Alive should make complete and comfortable sense.

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