‘NOFX: Recycling the same music for 25 years’ proclaims one of the t-shirts for sale at the merch stand tonight. A somewhat harsh assessment, perhaps, but NOFX‘s self-deprecating humour has always been their trademark. In any case, the sound of the capacity crowd shouting the band’s name a good fifteen minutes before they take the stage is proof enough that, although time has aged the band, their fans’ love endures.
Said fans don’t seem particularly enthusiastic about Tat, but the London trio give it their all anyway, with singer/guitarist Tatiana clearly enjoying the chance to play to so many people. Tunes-wise, ‘Peace, Sex And Tea‘ is great, but ‘Champagne, Cocaine And Strawberries‘ is just annoying and repetitive.
The Loved Ones fare better; with a clutch of rough edged but melodic tunes that just about survive the Academy’s notoriously hit and miss acoustics. Vocalist/guitarist Dave Hause deals with a heckler in suitably good humoured style (“Chill, dude, we’ll be fucking your mom whilst you’re watching NOFX!”), and they’ve evidently won a few new fans by the end of their set.
To see NOFX live, you’ll need a fair amount of patience, as Fat Mike and co are renowned for giving short shrift to any clichéd ideas of showmanship. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course, but tonight the band’s between-song banter ranges from highly amusing to painfully crass – and they certainly like to talk. You can’t help but feel that the tunes-to-chatter ratio is a tad on the small side, especially considering the size of the NOFX back catalogue.
That said, when NOFX truly hit their stride, it’s hard to imagine a more entertaining way to spend a Sunday evening. Only they could rip through endearingly sloppy renditions of ‘Liza And Louise‘ and ‘Eat The Meek‘, before perfectly nailing their magnum opus ‘The Decline‘ in its full eighteen-minute glory. Only they could torture the crowd with about eight ‘last songs’, most of them barely a minute in length, before finally unleashing ‘The Brews‘ onto a grateful crowd that goes utterly nuts and hollers along throughout.
And only NOFX could end their set by dancing stupidly onstage to Damien Marley’s ‘Welcome To Jamrock‘, before returning to play an ‘encore’ of ‘Stickin’ In My Eye‘ to a now half-empty venue. If there’s one thing that tonight has proved, it’s that NOFX remain an unpredictable bunch – and after 25 years together, that’s quite an achievement.
Photos by Jen Saul