The Connells Release New Live Album Set The Stage

Article Contributed by Missing Piece Group | Published on Saturday, May 6, 2023

Today, the internationally acclaimed, Raleigh-based alt band The Connells released their live album Set The Stage. This is the first official live record in the group’s 37 year history. The album is currently available for download / purchase here.

Guitarist / songwriter Mike Connell writes, "Over the years fans have asked why we haven't released a live record. The best explanation I can give is that when we walked off the stage on any given night, I was ready to move on from what we had just done. Maybe more to the point, I was scared of listening to what we had just done. I tend to fixate on the mistakes – the flat notes and the clams.  Recently though, I was encouraged to finally listen to some performances we had in the vault and I liked a lot of what I heard. With Set The Stage I think we finally captured "the loose precision" that is a Connells show and I am grateful that some steadfast friends of the band want to hear it."

Listen - The Connells: “Hat’s Off” (Live)

Connell writes that, “‘Hats Off’ was one of the first songs we ever released.  This was back in 1985, and it became a staple of our live shows in the early days of the band… The version on Set the Stage is from a show we played in Columbia, South Carolina… it was one of the highlights from that show and I think Doug (vocals) should be given his props for leaning into it that night.”

Set The Stage is The Connells’ tenth album, following 2021’s acclaimed release Steadman’s Wake. Their first record in two decades, Steadman’s Wake was acclaimed by Stereogum, Paste Magazine, American Songwriter, Brooklyn Vegan, Under The Radar and many more. The group subsequently embarked on a successful national tour, full of exuberant and high-energy performances like the ones documented on Set The Stage.

The Connells first formed in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina in 1984, debuting a year later with the song “Darker Days” on the Dolphin Records More Mondo Compilation, followed by their debut album Darker Days in 1986. Their 1987 Mitch Easter-produced album Boylan Heights established them as college-radio favorites, and they went on to work with producers including Gary Smith (Pixies, Billy Bragg), Hugh Jones (Echo & the Bunnymen, Modern English) and Lou Giordano (Goo Goo Dolls, Bob Mould) on subsequent albums. Three albums by The Connells have made the Billboard 200 charts in the United States, but their biggest commercial success came overseas in 1993 with “’74- ’75,” a pensive and moody ballad from their Ring LP which reached the top-10 in 11 European countries in 1995 (including No. 1 in Sweden, Norway and Germany).

Connells Tour Dates:

06/09/23 - Birmingham, AL - Saturn
06/10/23 - Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
06/16/23 - Rocky Mountain, VA - Harvester Performance Center
06/17/23 - Charleston, SC - Riviera Theater
07/14/23 - Norfolk, VA - The NorVa
07/15/23 - Richmond, VA - The National

Set The Stage Tracklist:
01) OT²
02) Slackjawed
03) Hats Off
04) Set The Stage
05) Too Gone
06) Fun and Games
07 Running Mary
08) Carry My Picture
09) Steadman’s Wake
10) Hey Wow
11) ‘75-’75
12) Really Great