First of a sequence of band bucket list kicking (not that I am planning on dying soon unless accidentally moshed to death) I take the opportunity to assess the status of long standing “legends” against my own elitist standards. Not that I had any overriding urge, with so much fresh music filling my ears, but when they come as close as the Tiv and a lift is provided it makes it a whole lot easier to indulge.
I’d been aware of NMA since about 1990, when I was borrowed a copy of Vengeance and its rabble-rousing title track long stuck in my mind. I wouldn’t know where to place them in genres’, the folky end of punk, the goth end of metal, but ultimately maybe that’s what made them a bit more intriguing and interesting in the long run. But with tales of the cult of clogs, pyramids, and surly violence seeming a little at odds with what I heard of a more folky darkness to their tunes it took me a long time to get round to seeing them.
The encouragement of fan friends and hearing that their new album “Winter” stood strongly in their recent catalogue got me over to the shady Buckley and remembering not to drink their dodgy beer we were in to see the already in progress Mr Mcrae and his band. At the same time laid back and strident it was much what you’d expect from their Irish/gypsy folk tunes, the fiddle picking up the jig tempo but not really striking me beyond being pleasant lively fun
New Model Army took a little while to take their place but instantly there was a focus, not only in their performance but in the attention they drew back in. Aided by a nicely atmospheric light show, they started off strongly with a new track “Burn the Castle”, clarity on Justin’s vocals allowing a full appreciation of meaning and message within the words that adds to their impact. He has a few words to say about current affairs but all are in tune here anyway. All instruments play their part in their driving or drifting rhythms, bass doubling up on some extra drums for more tribal beat based numbers, it gets lively but never rough, the height of people is only one storey, there are shifts in the emotional feel to the tunes that pass in waves through the crowd. They showcase a fair bit of the new album, and my particular favourite “Die Trying” really cuts through, really a song of the times with its refugee topic. They are complemented by their guest violinist which I learn is not always a feature, apparently they kidnapped her from Germany recently. She has a great solo spot to bring the band back for their encore of the classic “Vagabonds,“ joined by just the front man to start with, before it all builds once again to a great finish with an anthemic “I Love The World”. Really enjoyable show, the change of pace and style to my usual fare is to be savoured. There’s some craft to their creation, a natural inspiration that lets the strummed guitar and heartfelt vocal pluck at some strings inside. We have the opportunity to have a chat with most of the band as they mill about the merch later and there are no barriers, they are personable and interesting people and I get their graphic novel version of the new album signed by (almost) all. Good folk!