To try and capture on a live album what Daft Punk has done for electronic/dance music would be utterly absurd, but they come mighty close on this one. From start to finish, this album plays a lot more like a seamless greatest hits collection than a live effort. It takes you on a fluid journey through most of the Daft Punk back catalogue, and, in doing so, forces you to mentally dust off their three previous studio efforts and what they have come to mean for the world of music.
Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (known to the layman as Daft Punk) are a highly elusive duo, and have gone to great lengths to keep their identities hidden in an effort to not distract from the music. Bangalter said in an interview with Mixmag, In France, you speak of Daft Punk and I’m sure millions of people have heard it, but less than a few thousand people know our face — which is the thing we’re into. We control it, but it’s not us physically, our persons. We don’t want to run into people who are the same age as us, shaking our hand and saying, ‘Can I have your autograph?’ because we think we’re exactly like them. Even girls, they can fall in love with your music, but not with you. You don’t always have to compromise yourself to be successful. The playing with masks is just to make it funnier.
This evasive technique has, in a way, made Daft Punk what it is today. The mystique has added to their popularity almost as much as the quality of their music itself. Much of their live performance hinges upon their elaborate imagery and stage setup. From pyramid DJ booths to robot suits, they have truly mastered the use of visuals to enhance the auditory experience. But to capture that aural experience in an album form would be difficult to say the least. But, as mentioned earlier, they come close to succeeding.
The album begins with the dull roar of the audience which turns into an explosion of cheers as the metallic trill of a robot erupts from the loudspeakers. From there it is a 70 minute journey that takes you through the each era of the Daft Punk catalogue. They flawlessly move from fan favorite to fan favorite, jumping from era to era. At one point, they perfectly bleed 2004s Steam Machine into the driving bass-line of 1997s Around The World all the while overlapping 2004s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, and manage to make it one sensibly cohesive song. These unreal mash-ups just reaffirm that Daft Punk are truly masters of their art.
The greatest thing about this live album is that it makes it easy for the listener to visualize everything that must be going on at this show. The crowd surges with energy at the fan favorites and at every time the bass drops with thundering enormity. The crowd acts as a necessary instrument to the show. The constant ebb and flow of the screams and sing-a-longs force the listener to begin to feel as if he/she is really living this experience. Alive is far from a misnomer, as the listener truly gets to live this album, whether or not they had the opportunity to witness the Alive tour in person.
And while Alive is certainly not their magnum opus, it is absolutely an accurate encapsulation of the unequaled ultimate experience that is Daft Punk.