Sunday, 15 March 2009

The Bronx, Fucked Up, Rolo Tomassi @ Manchester Club Academy 28/2/09

The Shred Yr Face 2 tour had been on my mind ever since i first saw the advert in RockSound's pages. I was feverish with anticipation over seeing three bands that not only released three great albums that placed high in 2008's rankings, but three bands that are ultimately dedicated to the cause and who had international reputation for delivering live shows so electric they be worthy of remembrance.

The atmosphere in and around Manchester Club Academy was palpable, the Hardcore Punk kids were out in force for this one and there was an air of understand between everyone waiting, that what we were about to see would top anything else going on in Manchester tonight and that this chapter of Punk Rock is not without leadership, quality or taste.


Rolo Tomassi kicked things off with a whirlpool of throat-tearing. Feeding out pure, unadulterated energy from the amps. Even though the Sheffield five piece look young enough to be worrying about the following weeks exam results - let it be no deterrent, Eva Spence contorts and jolts her away through an all too brief set, bringing all the presence of a sprightly teenager with no cares in the world, she shakes the rafters with an unquestionably brilliant vocal display on tracks like 'I Love Turbulence' - showcasing all the reasons why she and the rest of the band have fast earned the title as the best of the young British talent.

The brilliance doesn't end with Eva, the frantic framework behind her draws influence from all areas of the musical tapestry - the discord of each song's structure as well as the flourishes of synthesized merriment suggest a forced collision between electro and prog, but hey, no one's going to complain about that tonight. Despite restricted movement in the crowd Rolo Tomassi get a good response, surely in time to come they'll be further up the bill and deservedly so.

The last traces of the Tomassi horde vanish backstage and with the crowd of people descending on the bar finally dying down the room hits fever pitch as Fucked Up troop onstage, their 6 foot plus behemoth of a frontman quickly exercises his reputation for outrage and excess by stringing himself to a pipe running across the ceiling in some brand of fake hanging! Only at a Punk Rock show i tell you. The rest of Fucked Up plug along at their own pace, blistering in parts - mellower in others, leaving the raucous lead singer to bait the crowd with his bloodthirsty renditions of 'Crooked Head' and 'The Chemistry of Common Life' - that serves to bring everyone together in one mass kin-ship, to scream the words back at Abrahams if only to prove a point.

Pink Eyes takes his stranglehold on the crowd by crossing the barrier that divides him from his people, ripping his way through the crowd - you'd be stupid enough to get in his way, all the while thundering along through a brilliant set list containing fan favourite 'David Comes To Life' and new single 'Black Albino Bones.' The outlandish and somewhat obscene behaviour continues as a now half naked Pink Eyes continues his attack on the barrier occupants who claw and tug at their commander in chief for this evening. I'm pretty sure i saw one flailing arm give him a cheeky tickle under the armpits..
The set closes with a rousing rendition of 'Police' - the last call for total chaos and, with that, Fucked Up retreat in victory - everyone left shaken and worse for wear but boy we all feel better for it! Roll on The Bronx.

Matt Caughthran is the last in a line of Bronx members to hit the stage, yet when he finally appears he comes out beaming. Matt has often said how thankful he is to the UK for always 'opening it's arms wider and wider for The Bronx' and so it looks as if now him and his crew of LA Punk maestros plan on playing their hearts out for that section of the UK here for the onslaught tonight. The Bronx waste no time at all in getting to grips with the crowd tonight, Matt Caughthran throws himself around like a newly freed Gorilla - conducting tonight's proceedings atop a sea of hands, he glides across an awe filled audience.

With a triumphant sense of union imbued on every exhausted face, the feeling that everyone is in this together - for not just The Bronx, but for Punk Rock in general - flows in and around every audience member. The manic buzz around 'Shitty Future' sends everyone into a higher gear, the melody behind new Punk anthem 'Young Bloods' brings the entire room to a meltdown - despite never breaking the chain of screaming back at an ever smiling Matt Caughthran

Tonight there is no compromise, at one moment the security are told to take a 5 minute break and with that the bodies come over the top thick and fast, wave after wave. Amazing scenes at the front see a few audience members attempting to bring down the solid steel barrier, but to no avail. With the destructive rhythm's of 'Knifeman' picking up the aural assault, one impassioned fan leaps over the barrier - after a call from Matt to 'break down what divides me from my people' - to which droves of adrenaline driven teens follow. I was there, i was on stage and it felt amazing. After kissing the guitarist and causing some mayhem with the drummer Jorma Vik it was off back into the crowd for the final send off 'Heart Attack American' which sent pulses racing and bodies crashing. The Shred Yr Face 2 tour has well and truly reignited the fire back into Punk Rock, it's not dead, it never was dead - this is just a new chapter in an ever expanding story. Miss it at your peril.

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