Ears still ringing so sleep impossible at the moment.
This was the fifth time I've seen them and I was thinking as I was looking round the sold out crowd of about 2,000 tonight how things have changed since myself and 50 odd other Mojo-reading old farts saw them at the tiny Fibbers in York in Feb 07. The place is full of boys with Springsteen tshirts and dads with their sons and loads of women, for some reason.
The band have lost the Salvador Dali look-alikey from the keyboards and are now a six piece, with an extra guitar. This has added steroids to their already pumped-up juggernaut live sound and, as well as being one of the loudest gigs I can remember for a long time it is easily the sweatiest with people fainting at the front even during Jesse Malin's over-zealous support slot.
They are on at 9.15 and rip through four of five of their best known songs, including the single from the new album. The sound is immense with a crunching double guitar assault that fills the holes that the keyboard frills on the old line-up took care of. No matter, I've by now retreated further back and to the left from the 30 feet or so I was at the start as young kids go mental and there's an almighty heave from the rear and beer and water cascade over everyone.
Craig Finn (the singer) is clearly on the money and his style of gesticulating and holding off-mike discourses with the crowd, in between spitting out his mass of lyrics, is as transfixing as ever. The extra guitar means he can pay more attention to this well-honed piece of stagecraft eccentricity and he never stops, lunging at the front row, spraying them with water and applauding like a little kid blowing out the candles on his birthday cake at the end of each song.
Jesse Malin joins them for a song and before you know it the main set closer is on us - Slapped Actress. I wonder how many of the crowd realise it was inspired by a John Cassevetes film (A Woman Under The Influence, the slapped actress in question being his then wife Gena Rowlands) - probably all of them as everyone apart from me seems to know every syllable of every word.
Five encores and they finish at 11pm on the dot. When he sings 'Raise a toast to St Joe Strummer/ I think he might have been our only decent teacher' the roof of the place nearly lifts off.
A fine performance by a group that's found new energy from the line-up change and moved in a direction that ups the ante for other bands competing for the best live band in the world tag.
@ at Leeds Met tonight. Barely half full no doubt due to the bizarre Valentines Day scheduling. As I can vouch, they're not the kind of band to take your girlfriend along to in place of a romantic candlelight dinner.
I remember when I saw them in Manchester last June they still had a keyboard player, although not the regular member who had left to go solo. This time they had no keyboards at all, meaning that the electrical sonic assault was jacked up even higher to tinnitus-inducing levels. They've dispensed with the piano and organ frills and instead settled for a trouser shaking Ramones-type pummeling with little consideration for light and shade. This meant that quite a few people were, literally, lurching to the back of the room with fingers in the ears as the wall of noise gathered pace. I fucking loved it.
I'd been feeling shit for weeks and was looking forward to finding some healing here, which I duly received. Whether it's the singers bad dancing, the way the guitarist sends his solos into orbit or the mock Spinal Tap shapes thrown by the bassist this is a band that forces you to join them in the moment, which I did for the 100 minutes in which they played like it was their first, or their last gig.
Redemptive, joyous and soul nurturing they connected with me on a purely visceral level - rapture, nirvana, call it what you will but it helped me make sense of why I am here - to be happy, and that feeling is priceless.
I shall be at their Manchester show 7/5. Bit disappointed with the album, expect all that to change post gig.
It seem Mojo agrees with you on the album Butts. A not very-friendly review in this months edition. But then again that's just one writers opinion I suppose. Just re-read your last gig review. Good work sir.
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