Monday, 23 June 2014

Fucked Up - Leeds Belgrave Music Hall

Spearheaded by a man with a vague whiff of a broadsheet journalist about him, Copenhagen’s Lower paint a resolutely bleak canvas that effortlessly marries post-punk and 80s hardcore. There’s plenty to engage with in Lower’s Joy Division-aping grey landscape and Adrian Toubro’s impassioned, often spoken word delivery, but I’m left with the feeling that until they arm themselves with a handful of ‘tunes’ they’ll struggle to capture imaginations in the way that Leeds’ very own Eagulls have done over the past 12 months, performing a very similar style of music.

Following Lower is New York’s Cerebral Ballzy, who are the swaggering, modern embodiment of skate punk. It’s a minor miracle that a band with a seemingly flippant name and a single musical idea are still going strong in their sixth year as a band, but with a new album out last week they show little sign of growing old gracefully. In truth, there’s little to distinguish one song from another, but there’s enough nods to the glory days of 80s hardcore to keep the punters interested, despite a strangely subdued performance by frontman Honor Titus.
2011’s ‘David Comes to Life’ elevated Fucked Up to a level that many of their peers could only dream of. The expansive concept album was able to combine intricate storytelling and, simply, bangin’ tunes for over an hour to create a grandiose and breathtakingly ambitious album, which has set the bar obscenely high for anything else the band commits to tape for the rest of its career. While their recent album, ‘Glass Boys’, doesn’t quite scale the giddy heights of their 2011 masterpiece, it’s a solid enough collection of polished punk songs to ensure that the band can still deliver one of the most notorious live shows in punk without a noticeable drop in quality. Damian Abraham is his usual manic self – he flirts between affability and utter lunacy in the blink of a riff – while his bandmates largely remain static as they provide a wall of sound that underpins his ear splitting growl; a growl that’s delivered from all four corners of the venue, mind, with barely an inch of ground not covered by his sizeable frame during the set.
Any band that can combine such urgent, innovative music with balls to the wall live shows like this deserves your attention. Long live Fucked Up. 
Words - Guy Atkinson