My ears are still ringing (and rightly so) after an amazing night at Brighton’s Concorde2 with New Model Army and their support Mad Dog Mcrea.
I caught some very enjoyable songs from the Mad Dog Mcrea set having not seen or heard them before. Some very skillful folk rock going on there. I’m always in awe of musicians on stage regardless of the genre and this clan were tighter than many a skinny jean in the room.
As the bands changed gear I ushered my friends to the front in a ‘now or never’ style reminiscent of days gone by. With excitement levels mounting we embraced the rumbling opening to “Burn the Castle” with our arms in the air. A great opener to get us all in the mood and a track I’d already had marked as ‘going to be great live’ – no disappointment there.
We were treated to a spectacular journey covering a span of more than 30 years, with songs being plucked from over eight different albums. Of course some will get overlooked with over 200 songs in the repertoire, but what occurred to me most was just how good their latest tracks sound live. There is no mellowing with age for Justin and the gang. This was serious metal in places which is a genre I’d not previously associated with this remarkably genre-bending band. With additional thunderous drums accompanying the already replete kit of drummer Michael Dean, we got a true thunderstorm of sound, a perfect tone for the night and to match the vibe from the new album.
Perhaps it’s a reflection of the current turbulent times and how the band are choosing to channel their response to it, but, as ever, we experience a heartfelt expression from Justin Sullivan’s thought-provoking and passionate delivery.
The new album is showcased with guttural finesse as we absorb tracks like “Eyes Get Used to the Darkness”, “Born Feral” and “Die Trying” and just as I am beginning to wish I’d had more time to listen to the new album so I could sing along, we’re spoiled with classic “Purity” and crowd-pleaser “51st State”.
Now we’re in real classic NMA territory where there’s an overriding scent of cider and you have to be careful of rogue dreadlocks whipping you in the eye. The Concorde2 is the perfect venue for this band to deliver their message in a hot steamy close-up setting.
I have to give mention to on-stage violinist Shir-Ran Yinon who brought us the string accompaniment throughout. She did an awesome job and had a tough act to follow with the violin’s tone being integral to a many a classic NMA tune.
The band take a much needed breather and the anticipation builds as we await the first encore and, as hoped and predicted, Shir-Ran unfolds the unmistakable intro of “Vagabonds”. The crowd go wild and sing and dance along in a frenzy. With the crowd now pumping it’s the perfect time to unleash “Between Dog and Wolf” which lifts us (and the roof) even more as we race toward the pinnacle that is all time favourite “Poison Street”.
Justin and the band retreat off stage with thankful gestures and I turn to say Hi to an old friend I’d very literally bumped into in the crowd. With the band having picked up on the Brighton crowd’s predominantly ‘Old School’ fandom we’re suddenly then rewarded with surprise second and very apt encore of “I Love the World”. This time Justin drops to his knees in humble thanks and utter exhaustion.
What they delivered tonight was a perfect example that ‘thing’ that happens when a band plays, the crowd feed off the energy and feed that back to the band and so the cycle continues until you can’t help but feel it down to your tingling fingertips.
With the political tone stronger than ever in NMA’s current work, and in our uncertain times, these guys won’t be running out of material – or steam – any time soon.