It was over two and a half years ago that Long Island emo-upstarts Brand New played a subdued show at The Astoria. Non-stop recording and touring seemed to have taken its toll, and tracks in the second album ‘Deja Entendu’ showed their discontent with touring. ‘My secrets for a buck. Watch me as I cut myself wide open on this stage. Yes, I am paid to spill my guts. I won’t see home till spring. Oh, I would kill for the Atlantic, but I am paid to make girls panic while I sing’ were just some of the tired lyrics written by Lacey.
Fast forward to Brixton Academy, September 2006. The venue sold out in days, the queue winding back on itself around the outside of the venue, skaters at Brixton Beach watching the trashed emo kids with bemusement. The long queue mean the kids have all the time in the world to get off their tits on White Lightning before being frisked at the door, meaning a few of them miss the show altogether, instead spending their night spewing in the gutter. Due to ‘planned engineering works’ on the northern line, we’re too late for the much hyped Say Anything, but from the moment Jesse Lacey and Co slide onto the stage to the intro of “Tautou‘, all disappointment is forgotten.
From the off set it’s clear, Brand New have reclaimed the passion and energy that seemed to elude them last time, but it’s a darker more intense sound. Lacey keeps his hood up for the opening tracks, silhouetted against the blood red backdrop, a sinister figure bereft of smiles for now.’Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t’ spits with arrogant lyrics ‘ I am heaven sent, don’t you dare forget’; Jesse Lacey’s deadpan vocals so hard and unbreakable, that juxtaposed next to the fragile ‘The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot’, it seems like he truly is ‘spilling his guts’ on the stage.
‘Guernica’, ‘ Me Vs Madonna Vs Elvis’ and ‘ I Will Play My Game Beneath The Spin Light’ are all sublime, the latter two’s lyrics again highlighting their malcontent with touring. Vinnie Accardi is like a wind up toy, going demented on bass, swirling and swirling on the side of the stage as Lacey finally breaks into a smile, and waves to the upper circles .’ How are you guys doing up there in the Highlands? You look fantastic’ he smiles coyly.
The new tracks debuted tonight are heavier, more progressive than the previous album, which was in itself a huge step forward from their debut ‘ Your Favourite Weapon’. Lacey has in the passed made efforts to distance the band from their old sound, and tonight they disappoint some by playing only three tracks from that album. ‘Seventy Times Seven’ retells how they fell out with Adam Lazarro of Taking Back Sunday, the line ‘ Is that what you call tact? You’re as subtle as a brick in the small of my brick’ is lyrically echoed in the TBS track ‘There’s No I In Team’.
‘Sic Transit Gloria’s thumping bassline rings out and the rest of the band leave Lacey churning out feedback and effects on stage, the red light catching his guitar, making it appear a red hot ember in his hands. It’s clear who the star of this act is. Two encores follow with Lacey alone on the stage at first for a rare outing for ‘ Soco Amaretto Lime’ is followed by stunning acoustic rendition of ‘ Jude Law And The Semester Abroad and finally ‘ Play Crack The Sky’, a somewhat depressing choice to end their triumphant night with, but then, Brand New are anything but run of the mill.
With their third album due out on Interscope on November 21st, it will be interesting to see where Brand New take us next. The show tonight reinforces our belief that Jesse Lacey and his band are supremely talented, and even if they alienate some fans by stepping away from their emo roots, they are sure to be winning over many more with their intensive, darker sounding new material. It’s good to have them back in the fold, here’s hoping they don’t leave it so long next time.