Drum roll please….(If you can’t already tell from the title and photo above)
The winning gig that was graced by my presence was… Refused.
Once again another stunning performance by the Umeå quintet with one of punk rocks most charismatic frontmen Dennis Lyxzén leading from the front, in his now trademark tight pants and jacket. His yo-yo like tricks with his microphone really are something to behold.
During the superb Rather Be Dead he ventured through the sold out crowd to the mixing desk without missing any of his lyrics. Opening track Elektra saw the beers flying high through the air and there was no let up in the ensuing 80 minutes. Yet again their notorious debut UK show in Stoke was greeted by jeers, but if you were there two decades ago you couldn’t disagree with Dennis on the abysmal crowd that night.
Penultimate track of the night, New Noise, is the bands anthem and the sing along volume was cranked up several more notches before proceedings were brought to an end with Tannhäuser / Derivè.
The Swedes are playing a few UK festivals later in the year, so hopefully I can catch them again this year.
Only 36 hours later than scheduled with this post!
This weeks gig diary has plenty of options pencilled in but so far I’ve committed to none. With it being a bank holiday I was interested in seeing Prong snapping necks in London, Exodus doing the toxic waltz in Amsterdam or Dag Nasty having a field day over in Munich during the Easter weekend, but travel prices go through the roof when the kids are absent from school.
Wednesday – Manchester, Academy 3
I have no ticket for this yet and it appears to now have been down graded to the smallest of the four rooms in the Academy complex sonI’m not sure if I’ll be attending or not, depends if tickets will still be available on the door. Failing that Saturday in Birmingham could be an option.
Saturday – Nantwich, Civic Hall
Assuming I see Refused on Wednesday I might venture along the A500 to see FM performing at the towns annual Jazz Festival. Obviously FM aren’t a jazz band, but the weekend long event is spreading it’s musical wings.
Yesterday afternoon I was in London. Last night Swedish hardcore punk band Refused played London. Well I messed that one up didn’t I!
I must have been listening to the Umeå band since 1994 (Umeå – now that was a great little hardcore scene – Final Exit, Doughnuts, Abhinanda amongst others and Desperate Fight Records). It was another appearance by a band on a compilation CD that piqued my interest in yet more musical highlights. Not exactly sure what compilation it was, maybe a fanzine maybe a label – We Bite, Burning Heart? After hearing them I tracked down what I could through the numerous distro’s that I used at the time. The era where all CD singles used to come packaged in card sleeves. I have several boxes of card sleeved CD’s!
Roll on to August 26th 1996, New York hardcore mob were doing a few select UK dates and one of those was at The Wheatsheaf in Stoke. I’d seen Madball for the first (and second) time earlier in the year, so playing a 15 minute drive away from home was a given, even more so when France’s Kickback and Refused were supporting.
The first gig on UK soil definitely lives on in the mind of vocalist Dennis Lyxzén, and not in a good way! A lot of the local hardcore “kids” didn’t show up as NYHC wasn’t their thing – and Refused are far removed from that. Those who were in attendance had not heard Refused, (give it a couple more years to the release of The Shape of Punk to Come and that venue would have been heaving) so a shirt and trouser clad hardcore band with smart haircuts was light years ahead of what the narrow minded locals were used to at the time. The majority of the sparse crowd continued their conversations and turned their backs on a band that would later become such a massive influence on the transforming post hardcore scene.
How do I know that night in Staffordshire is still burned into Dennis’ brain? During their set on the second stage at the 2012 Download Festival he brought up the appalling crowd response at their first UK show in Stoke. I enjoyed the band that night and looked forward to them more than the headliners. Spin on 24 hours and you would also find me at their second British gig at Jilly’s Rockworkd in Manchester, with the addition of UKHC godfathers Stampin’ Ground and local heroes Area Effect. I reckon the closest the band have got to returning to the county is speeding through it on the M6 as fast as they can.
Rather Be Dead is taken from 1996’s Songs to Fan The Flames of Discontent album.