Since the smoking ban was enforced, it’s become a bit easier to breathe in the stifling conditions of a sold-out Underworld. Gunrack probably don’t realise this, however, as that they have to take the stage mere minutes after doors opening. Their ragged punk tunes are impressive enough; so it’s a shame that there aren’t more punters around to hear them.
However, the World/Inferno Friendship Society are nothing short of a revelation – and deserve plenty of kudos just for managing to squeeze all nine of themselves on the small Underworld stage. This punk/cabaret crew have a large following in their native New York, and it’s not hard to see why; as tonight they bring a party atmosphere like few other bands can; Singer Jack Terricloth is the perfect host, with his friendly demeanour and self-deprecating humour – and when he asks us to form couples and waltz to ‘Brother Of The Mayor Of Bridgewater‘, the size of the waltzing throng speaks volumes.
After the WIFS’ stage presence, it feels somewhat odd to see the stage go back to a basic punk rock band setup. Thankfully, Against Me! are not just any old punk rock band; and when the crowd are singing your songs long before you take the stage, you know you’re onto a winner. Sure enough, the Underworld goes utterly beserk as Tom Gabel and co rip through the opening ‘Problems’, and the energy level never drops throughout their entire set.
It’s a joy to witness the sea of pumping fists (and stagedivers) that greet old favourites like ‘Pints Of Guinness Make You Strong‘, and to hear the crowd almost drowning out Tom’s vocals on the rhythmic stomp of ‘Don’t Lose Touch‘. They’ve always been a great live band, but tonight is a true reminder of just how much Against Me! are loved on these shores.
Their newer efforts may lack the gritty edge of their earlier folk-punk offerings, and the heat in the Underworld may verge on the unbearable; but when faced with a performance this good, it’d be churlish not to thank Against Me for reminding us just how good a punk rock show can be.
Photo from www.myspace.com/againstme