Five years feels a long time since the last punk album from The Bronx, although the Los Angeles quartet busying themselves over the last half decade with quite bizarrely, two collections of Mariachi music, highlighting their mastery of song writing, melody and musical ability. 2013 however, reveals a fourth chronologically titled hardcore record, ‘The Bronx IV’ already a strong contender for album of the year, bringing the band across the Atlantic for a live foray in cities and venues of which they are very familiar.
Providing opening support tonight are Axis Of, a three piece from Northern Ireland producing energetic, off kilter time signature noise rock with a groove. Touting their latest album, ‘Finding of St Kilda’ the trio provided electrifying early evening entertainment, winning the crowd over to the point of coercing a vigorous sing back. Perhaps sight of barefooted man mountain drummer Ethan Harman a particular source of encouragement. www.facebook.com/Axisof
Main support, Ontario’s Single Mothers prove more traditional, straight down the line hardcore punk. Plenty in the way of energy and big, quick riffage although lacking the melodic tendencies of The Bronx. Also a touch too much of the stereotypical, we hate you so you’ll hate us back, let’s create a response attitude. No need guys, we quite enjoyed you, like it or not. www.facebook.com/singlemothersparty
A love to hate attitude or even anything stereotypically punk unapparent from The Bronx, Matt Caughthran has always been vocal about his love and appreciation of Manchester as a city and it’s fans of the band, wholeheartedly endorsing tonight. According to Caughthran during one of many heartfelt speeches, the pecking order for English cities in The Bronx world, Manchester, London, Brighton, Leeds then the rest, which even an impassioned plea of Wolverhampton from the audience can't detract. From the absolutely blistering opening of "Unholy Hand" track one from the new album, the scene is set, Club Academy going wild, crowd surfers overhead early, security immediately aware of a long busy night in prospect.
While the band of Joby Ford, Jorma Vik, Ken Horne and Brad Magers set the precedent, loud, tight visceral and pugnacious, it's Caughthran who holds sway, his gruff vocals and screams seemingly at odds with his generally more undemonstrative personality. No act apparent from Caughthran, he is what he is and if he wants to dance around the stage in completely un-punk manner, he will. The Bronx live experience further establishes the division between hardcore band and the mariachi offshoot, although in and amongst the aural carnage, melodies still heavily apparent, “Valley Heat”, again from the latest album, while at the lighter end, still instinctively well received. Also good to hear, the crowd singing as fervently to new material as old, although the more familiar entice ever more intense moshing and surfing.
Caughthran urges the anti to be upped prior "Knifeman" before disappearing deep into the melee off stage during "They Will Kill Us All without Mercy." It's this lack of pretension and willingness to allow face to face, nose to nose contact with his rapt followers which makes him such a devastatingly effective frontman. When Caughthran speaks, words come from the heart, no suggestion of bullshit, just plainly spoken facts, on which fans expect and insist, a rabid intensity not only to listen and watch the music, also live it. Tonight’s pit no place for faint of heart, It’s primal, it's aggressive…. if you can't hack it, step aside or back, front centre not the place for you. The tumultuous closing of "Heart Attack American" and "History's Stranglers" finds both band and crowd reaching an empowering peak, a constant stream of bodies careering overhead before The Bronx exit to euphoric applause. No encore that again would appear clichéd bollocks, instead a straight hour and twenty minutes of playing it hard, playing it fast before leaving us breathless, begging for much, much, more.
It had been suggested to me before this evening, The Bronx is the best live band around….fact. I’m finding it hard to disagree. http://thebronxxx.com/bx4
Under The Rabbit
Along for the Ride
Too Many Devils
Six Days a Week
They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy)
Heart Attack American