Sunday, 18 November 2018

Memories of 2018 gigs #8

Support: HMLTD, Fontaines D.C.
SWX, Bristol - 15 November 2018

Back so soon at SWX? Well Shame have made one of the albums of the year and one of the best debuts of the decade. They also have a reputation for being rather tasty in the live setting so I reckon it would've been foolish to pass up this opportunity to catch them so close to home. What I've noticed about Bristol in relation to Cardiff is the audiences there arrive early. Like the Idles show a few weeks back, the place was already heaving when we arrived halfway through the opening set.

Fontaines D.C. are from Northern Ireland and play a brand of punk that has great pedigree in those parts, though this lot are more Stiff Little Fingers than Undertones, angrier, grittier and more than a little agitated. There's certainly more than a little bit of The Fall in them too and they comfortably fit into the scene being carved by the likes of Shame, Idles and the like with the the songs to match. I'd look out for Fontaines D.C. if I were you.

For an entirely different reason, I'd also advise you look out for London's HMLTD. If the description 'electro-art-punk' doesn't scare the bejayzus out of you then it really should. I could write paragraphs about this lot, but they are not worthy of my time or effort. I'll just say how annoyed I am that the half hour I spent watching them cannot ever be reclaimed. A horrific experience I just want to forget about. Look out for them - and avoid like the plague, for your own sake.
("I found them entertaining, it was like musical theatre." - MrsRobster.)

So thank heavens for Shame. That reputation they have that I mentioned above? It's justified. My word, how good are Shame live?! Their brilliant debut album 'Songs Of Praise' has been quite rightly heralded as a highlight of 2018, and it has plenty to recommend it. But it's clearly the live setting where they belong, the energy exuded onstage was electrifying. A crowd-surfing singer, an acrobatic bass player, and some of the best lead guitar sounds you'll hear in a long time.

There may be some who will denounce bands like Shame as being derivative of the original punk era. Well, that may be true to some extent, and I don't think they'd totally deny it, but to this generation, bands like Shame are simply expressing what they feel. There is no attempt here to be the new Clash or anything quite so crass, but there are more than a few parallels with 1976 in 2018. The times may share similar tensions, but the bands of each era are certainly doing very different things. No one was writing songs like Concrete, Lampoon and The Lick in 1976, and you'll be hard pressed to find many who do it quite so well as Shame in 2018. Live, they are given a new lease of life, and the biggest, sweatiest and wildest mosh pit I've seen in years (even better than the Idles one) is testament to the pull this band has.

There were a couple of new songs in the set and only time will tell if they hold up as well as the songs we're now familiar with, but having witnessed the sensation that is Shame with my own eyes at last, I'm confident they're in it for the long haul, and that is an exciting prospect whether you're an old punk, a new punk or someone who hates electro-art-punk.

DIY magazine recently wrote of Shame: "This is not just hype, this is the real fucking deal!" I'll happily agree with that sentiment on this evidence.

1 comment:

  1. A good friend of mine, whose tastes over the years have proved to be quite discerning, has been raving about Fontaines D.C. these past couple of months. I havent, as yet, checked them out, but your words have given me a prod.