NOFX & Alkaline Trio live at Brixton Academy

NOFX/Alkaline Trio
Brixton Academy
July 5th 2015

nofx_brixton“I’d have a go at the front row for being old and fat, but I think that’d be a bit pot-kettle-black these days!” Capdown frontman Jake Sims-Fielding may indeed be looking a bit silver around the temples, but his band’s supercharged ska-core attack still hits the mark after all these years, with the likes of ‘Cousin Cleotis’ and ‘Pound For The Sound’ filling the Academy like very few opening bands can. Never quite hitting the heights reached by so many of their US counterparts, the Milton Keynes quartet were much loved by those in the know, and tonight that love is justified once again.

Lagwagon, in contrast, have spent most of their 25 year existence in the shadow of their labelmates NOFX, and whilst you can’t fault the Californians for effort, they’re hampered by sub-par sound and a relative lack of genuinely great songs. The crowd seem slightly subdued after the in-your-face fury of Capdown, and only a late rendition of ‘Alienate’ truly gets things moving again.

Ding-ding, round one of the Classic Albums In Their Entirety face-off. In the red (and black) corner, Chicago’s finest, Alkaline Trio, who seem to have barely aged in the last decade, and come armed with ‘From Here To Infirmary’. Personally, I’d have preferred to hear its predecessor, ‘Maybe I’ll Catch Fire’, but ‘…Infirmary’ is a fine second best, and is notably the album that marked their first visit to UK shores. Matt Skiba & co. don’t waste words as they get stuck in, and even lesser-known cuts like ‘Take Lots With Alcohol’ and ‘Steamer Trunk’ are received like black-humored manna. It’s a set that’s largely bereft of surprises, but overflowing with tunes, and they get bonus points for an epic closing rendition of ‘Radio’.

Round two, and in the green corner it’s NOFX, with 1994’s ‘Punk In Drublic’ set for an airing. Three decades into the game and Fat Mike’s crew can still bamboozle us; why bother simply playing your magnum opus straight when you could mix it up with a bunch of other (mostly equally good) songs, numerous wisecracks, impersonations and general messing around? Lesser bands probably couldn’t get away with it, but these guys have a certain chemistry, and they also have ‘The Cause’, ‘Linoleum’ and ‘Don’t Call Me White’ to whip any self-respecting pit (including tonight’s) into a maelstrom. Irreverent to the end, yet arguably the only band here tonight who seem truly comfortable on the Academy’s huge stage, NOFX’s revisit of past glories sounds pretty damn fine in the here and now.

Review: Alex Gosman

Alkaline Trio

ALKALINE TRIO
‘My Shame Is True’
(Epitaph)

When you consider that the four Ds (drugs, drinking, depression and death) have been Alkaline Trio’s lyrical stock-in-trade for most of their seventeen (!) year existence, it’s amazing that ‘My Shame Is True’ (their ninth album) sees the Chicago crew sounding so vital.

The opening ‘She Lied To The FBI’ and ‘The Temptation Of St. Anthony’ belt along with the kind of hooks and addictive choruses that bands half the Trio’s age would kill for, replete with Matt Skiba’s black-humoured story telling. So far, business as usual – and business is good. ‘I, Pessimist’, featuring guest vocals from Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath, is one of the best things the Trio have ever done, and should sound amazing live.

However, the songs that really colour ‘My Shame Is True’ are those of lost love and regret. Hardly fresh ground for this most endearingly maudlin of bands, but the likes of ‘Kiss You To Death’ and epic closer ‘Until Death Do Us Part’ could teach your average screamo band a thing or two about dealing with heartbreak.

“I hear the telephone works both ways/Think you can make a little effort someday?” croons co-vocalist/bassist Dan Andriano on the piano-laden ‘Only Love’. He sounds troubled, but hopefully he’ll find comfort in knowing that, with songs as good as these, we’ll be listening whenever Alkaline Trio call.

Alex Gosman