10.12.06 MEN Arena, Manchester
Reviewed by Neil Crud
If you had told me 15 years ago that in 2006 I would be
taking my 13 year old daughter to watch a post-punk band in a huge arena, I
would have probably hit you with my rucksack, stuck my thumb out and carried on
hitch hiking around Europe. Y’see there isn’t a generation gap anymore, either
that or I’m just a cool parent. As a teenager I hammered out punk music from my
bedroom, much to the despair of my mother and when I had been in 4Q for a while
and turned the press into an occupied zone she questioned; ‘You’re not still in
that silly band are you?’
Nowadays we have kids in bands, with non-generational gap minded parents encouraging them all the way. And tonight we had kids in stripey tights, dark make-up, big boots, t-shirts and accompanying parents not looking too disimilar. When my Dad took me to see the Clash when I was 13 I think he had cordorouy trousers and a tank top on (only joking Dad!)!
By coincidence or by design I managed to drive right up to the entrance of the MEN Arena and park the Crudmobile, remembering my last visit here (to see Muse) when I was duped by the ‘Secure Car Parking’ touts and then had to walk a good mile or so to the venue, not this time; click Lock and walked up the stairs, how lucky was that!!?
I tried to give the chap behind one of the numerous bars some extrta money as I didn’t think £3.20 was enough to pay for a pint of warm Carlsberg.
Howling Bells kicked off proceedings to a half empty or half full arena and are a band with some serious backing. If you can afford to buy yourselves onto a tour with Placebo, having just toured Europe with The Killers and about to hit Australia with Snow Patrol, it’s bleedin’ obvious that someone somewhere has a bulging sack full of cash and a lot of belief in this band. They were ok, little Crudlet enjoyed them; kinda reminded me of Siouxsie & The Banshees (although I did almost nod off – its my age!)..
Much to my daughter’s dismay, the next band given 30 minutes to exercise their lungs were the Archie Bronson Outfit, ‘these are crap Dad.’ – I thought they were pretty good. Good enough to inspire a little further reasearch on the soon to collapse under the weight MySpace, which proved fruitless. Memory tells me they were like a dirty Beck, trashy with a bassist that played a lot of guitar and a double saxophonist (not in the Zaphod Beeblebrox style a la two heads, but with two saxes).
I’ve seen Placebo so many times that I should be on their
christmas card list by now. Mention to people you’re going to see them and you’ll
get one of two reactions – they’ll either hate you with envy, or they’ll say
they hate the whiing voice of Brian Molko.
It happened to be his birthday – of course there was a round of ‘happy birthday’ from those that worship him so.
It is testament to the strength and depth of their ten year repertoire that they could afford to leave out songs like Pure Morning, Black Eyed, Nancy Boy, 36 Degrees, Slave To The Wage and many more! In fact the debut album was represented by Bionic and I Know. The second album by Every Me Every You and the shivering title track Without You I’m Nothing, although they have played it so many times that live it doesn’t have that same impact anymore. Album three; my favourite was delivered by Taste In Men and Special K with the rest of the set heavily depending on the latest LP ‘Meds’ and ‘Sleeping With Ghosts’. Great visuals, twelve huge screens displaying live shots inter-mingled with angst ridden looping videos. An encore of Kate Bush’s Running Up The Hill had followed a slamming Bitterend and quite unusual was the finale of Twenty Years that led those worried about getting caught in the traffic to make a hasty retreat to the exit. Like those early leavers at a soccer match who here their home crowd roar as a late goal goes in, they missed a stunning end to this slow song as it built up to a tsunamic cresendo, sweeping the capacity crowd with a wall of sonic bliss as Molko and Steffan, on their knees, plundered the living daylights out of their guitars.