LONDON HMV FORUM, KENTISH TOWN
The disembodied voice of Howard Devoto cuts short a wordy recorded intro, explaining away the band’s highly anticipated reunion with ‘There’s This Woman I Need to Impress’. Drummer John Doyle, keyboardist Dave Formula and bassist Barry Adamson materialize from the shadows, with dapper guitarist Noko filling the shoes of the late John McGeogh, and the insistent stomp of ‘The Light Pours Out Of Me’ blows away the decades and dispels all need for further explanations. A leisurely figure in half-mast trews, Devoto appears perfectly at ease considering his long absence from the scene. What follows is a near flawless coast through Magazine’s back pages, classic after classic – ‘Because You’re Frightened’, ‘Rhythm of Cruelty’, ‘Permafrost’ - dispatched with panache. Noko executes those McGeoch guitar lines admirably, while Adamson delivers sinewy basslines with uber-cool nonchalance. The set hits a new level with the urgent groove of ‘20 Years Ago’ which sequences immaculately into the giddying ‘Definitive Gaze’. The classic single ‘Shot By Both Sides’ kicks pure adrenaline with its needling guitar riff and the final encore, an amped-up cover of Beefheart’s ‘Big Dummy’, closes proceedings on an unmatchable “never thought I’d see the day” type of show.
Sick Of It All by Nick Mann
BIG CHEESE SPONSORED…
LONDON KENTISH TOWN FORUM
Four o'clock on a Thursday afternoon is definitely not the optimum time for a gig to start, and it's no surprise early acts WAR OF AGES and DISCIPLINE are missed by many – this reviewer included. The venue's still far from full as Dutch outfit BORN FROM PAIN (3/5) bully their way through a set that's high on aggression but low on originality. There's some serous Hatebreed-worshipping going on here, and even though their on-stage enthusiasm gets a few hyped-up individuals down the front moving, there's not enough real quality to drag their set above the realms of average-ness. Mediocrity remains the order of the day with Germany's HEAVEN SHALL BURN (2/5), who also do little to leave any lasting impression with their one-dimensional brand of metalcore. It's not until TERROR (4/5) take to the stage, that the crowd actually seems interested in what's going on, and the Los Angeles bruisers up the ante from the off, inciting the first real crowd activity of the night. With just half an hour to play with, it's good to hear them only dropping in two songs from this year's 'The Damned, The Shamed' effort, leaving space for crowd faces like 'One With The Underdogs' and 'Push It Away'. Fast, furious and straight-to-the-point, they're pretty much awesome from start to finish.
The feeling that the night was actually getting going was reinforced from the moment H20 (5/5) took to the stage and deliver a consistently great set of super-positive hardcore that's tailor-made for bringing a smile to the face. Despite a rubbish sound mix, the anthemic nature of their material shines through, right from opener '1995' via the likes of 'Everready', 'Thicker Than Water', an ace 'Guilty By Association' and cleverly dropping Fugazi's 'Waiting Room' into the middle of 'Five Year Plan' – it’s all fist-in-the-air, shout-along fun and their set ends far too soon. Thankfully, their departure from the stage merely paves the way for fellow NYHC legends SICK OF IT ALL (5/5). It might actually be impossible for SOIA to deliver a duff set, because tonight is – as ever – pretty much flawless. Right from the proto-mosh of 'It's Clobberin' Time' through to newer songs from last album 'Death To Tyrants', they've always remained hard-hitting but anthemic, angry but fun, and their set tonight offers up all of that and more. Twenty years into their career, and SOIA are still the hardcore band to see live.
Words/Photo: Nick Mann