Review – Refused / Thrice

Date: Thursday 31st October 2019

Venue: Manchester Academy, Manchester

Supports: Gouge Away

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Occasionally a tour will be announced that is so good that you buy tickets despite the fact that the band you are going to see aren’t ones that are regularly played on your music list. This is one such example of a tour with two of the most influential yet somehow underrated bands in the alternative scene playing the same stage on the same night as co headliners. With both Thrice and Refused it was interesting to see the mix in the crowd as both bands have a very different sound to each other and yet somehow everything worked to perfection. Unfortunately thanks to the drive from hell across the M62, I didn’t get chance to catch tonight’s support act hardcore punks Gouge Away which was a real shame as they were a band that I was certainly looking forward to catching. If you aren’t familiar with the band then I’d definitely recommend giving them a listen, a personal favourite from them is R.O.T.

For the first of two hour long headline sets this evening were the Swedish punk pioneers Refused. Opening up with new album opener REV001 things started with a bang and by bringing the new album to front of set showed that they weren’t just living with their past success. Following up with ‘Violent Reaction’ kept the energy nicely flowing and was great to hear live after I’d put a bunch of plays into it on Spotify in preparation. Despite the new album sounding incredible, playing big hitter ‘Elektra’ early in the set really got the crowd moving and dancing along. Heading back to the newer tracks ‘I Wanna Watch The World Burn’ Which took vocalist Dennis Lyxzén Into the crowd all the way to the back which proved to be a very effective way of opening up the pit. Giving talks on serious topics such as capitalism and patrichy amongst others went out to approving crowds and it was good to see punk standing for something so strongly still. Saving the best track until last, it was no doubt that ‘New Noise’ would go down well to finish the set. As crowd in unison launched in with opening line ‘Can I Scream?’ Manchester Academy turned upside down with the sheer amount of people bouncing and shouting along the words. Pausing for extra effect before the last chorus Refused thanked the crowd as they were the reason the band could keep doing what they do. Launching back in it was clear how heavy the track hit and really ended the set on a high. It’s great to see that Refused unique sound is carried from their records and sounds just and incredible live and it just goes to show how talented of a band they really are.

Refused

Taking to the stage for the second coheadline set tonight were Thrice. Regularly described as your favourite bands favourite band, its no wonder that they deliver a fantastic show and having accidentally discovered them at Leeds festival back in 2016 so I was long overdue seeing them! Coming out to ‘Only Us’ showed the complete juxtaposition between the two headliners with Refused’s raw energy compared to the refined performance and intricate tracks of Thrice . By the second track ‘Image of Invisible’ the crowd were in full voice signing along with the chorus. It was clear that Thrice’s building tracks left the crowd in awe and new track ‘Just Breathe’ proved that booming across the Academy. Following this there was a huge crowd reaction to the opening riff of ‘Hurricane’ which got a huge tear and an even bigger singalong flying straight into  ‘Artist in the Ambulance’ after was one of the highlights of the night as the two tracks worked so well with each other. A couple of songs later the band cracked out arguably their biggest track ‘Black Honey’ which really showed just how tight the band were and how each element mixed so beautifully with the others. After a rousing performance of ‘The Earth Will Shake’ to start to wind down their set the band opted to finish with slower track ‘Beyond The Pines’ which somehow worked perfectly. It finished with somber tone but somehow worked and built on the fantastic set from tonight. As the band left the stage the crowd were left in awe at the end of Thrice’s phenomenal show. Despite having to follow a much heavier band it was clear that they could hold their own and by making the set focused on their deeper tracks they really used the earlier mentioned juxtaposition to their advantage. It would definitely be hard to find another band that refined and tight in a live setting, everything worked perfectly and really went to show just why Thrice are so many people’s favourite bands.

Thrice

Review – Press To Meco

Date: Thursday 3rd October 2019

Venue: The Basement, York

Supports: Borderline, Chapter and Verse

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First up tonight were the local support Borderline. With a synth, a bass and a drum kit out on stage it really was interesting to try and work out what kind of sound was going to come off the stage. The best way I can think to describe it would be if you imagine Royal Blood but someone let them go wild with a synth. As they burst into first track ‘Empathy’ it came as a shock to the system but very much in a good way. The high notes of the synth were a huge contrast to the groove from the bass and drums. Shouldn’t have worked from the variety of different sounds but it actually came out very well as a mix and each instrument complimented the others for a really interesting soundscape. Older track ‘In a Vacuum’ made for a catchy number with the synth almost taking the role of a lead guitar while still mixing with the rhythm of the track. Unreleased track ‘Lara Croft’ sounded good and will be one to keep an eye on when it’s released. As the band wound down their set they mad a very poignant stand to end it with a song about some of the serious issues in the world today, only the serious issues turned out to be shark attacks. This felt very fitting as the band weren’t afraid to have fun all throughout the night. Very often an opening band will be a safe choice but Borderline were far out and it was incredible to see a band trying something complete different and doing it well so huge props to the band for stepping up and putting on a great set.

Borderline

Next up tonight were Chapter and Verse, a band that I was much more familiar with. As a little interesting fact, last time I came to a gig that was being played at The Basement, Chapter and Verse were supporting Dream State so it was quite surreal to see them again as supports in the same venue. Between the last set in York and seeing them playing the Main Stage at 2000Trees last year it was clear that the band are coming on leaps and bounds and are sure to hit their break through soon. Starting with new track Bad Blood which sounded fantastic live really hit this point home. Tonight’s mix sounded great and the band always put on a very energetic live performance. As vocalist Josh said tonight was “Like playing in a living room and watching your little brother go mad”. Keeping with the newer releases, it was great to get an exclusive play of unreleased track ‘Beauty Sleep’ which continuing the theme of ‘Bad Blood’ is a very promising sign of things to come. One of Chapter and Verse’s standout points are the incredible vocals soaring above the heavy tracks and as usual this was shown off brilliantly during ‘Ink’ with everyone stood in awe listening along. After a speech to the room about The New Breed which really built the inclusion the band finished tonight with in my opinion their best track so far – Magazines. This definitely ended the set on a high and really built the energy for Press to MECO who were up next. After another incredible set I really would love to see these guys get the recognition they deserve and play much bigger crowds and with the new tracks like Bad Blood it’s definitely a possibility.

Chapter and Verse

Keeping with the theme of bands that I saw at 2000Trees were tonight’s headliners Press to MECO. The only difference here was that the set they played there was acoustic so to hear them in full force tonight would be a completely separate experience. As with Chapter and Verse before it was quite a shock to see them playing in a 100 cap venue however with the great reaction to new track ‘Easy Life’ this will probably be the last chance to see these guys playing this level of venue before stepping up to much larger ones. As the band took to the stage, the low ceiling and layout of the venue really gave an intense intimate feeling which worked perfectly to build on the energy in the room. By the time the band reached the end of second track ‘All Your Parts Don’t Make a Whole’ the crowd were shouting the words back and dancing along. With some phenomenal harmonies between the three members of the band it made for a very unique experience as they shared the vocal duties throughout the set. New track ‘Easy Life’ got a play halfway through and sounded nothing short of incredible. Despite only being released less than two weeks ago the crowd had clearly had it on repeat as they knew every word. With the intimate setting slower tracks like ‘A Quick Fix’ and ‘Honestly’ had an amazing feel and really hit home with all the emotion you’d expect there to be. With smaller shows you tend to find the mix a little worse than other places but the opposite was true tonight and continued to impress with all three instruments balanced perfectly to really give a fantastic sound. As the band came to a close with plays of ‘White Knuckling’ and the incredible ‘Here’s to Fatigue’ it really ended things with a bang. As the band expelled all their energy from the stage it was clear that they had given it their all this evening and everyone in attendance had had a fantastic evening. Press to MECO are definitely a band to be keeping an eye on at the moment and after this tour and a new album I really hope that they get the break that they deserve.

Press To MECO