Regent Hall – London
It’s not often you get to sit in pews to see Ian Mackaye perform a show, so this was an exceptional opportunity.
We didn’t organise tickets in advance, but we held a sign that someone else had made and held it aloft the queue on Oxford Street until 2 tickets were bought at face value – most people had helped us quite willingly, scene shows like this tend to hold that reality and that is why we are here.
With buns and orange juice replacing beer and cigarettes, the show started with Fugazi’s very own Ian Mackaye on vocals and baritone guitar and his partner in crime Amy Farina on drums and vocals who usually shares her duties with The Warmers.
The duo opened with “Shelter Two” beneath full strip lighting and a silent audience. Seriously, you could hear a pin drop in there at times and rightly so, I mean how many churches do you sit in and make loads of noise? This track opens the wonderful self titled album on Dischord and is the perfect example of what sound this pairing deliver throughout this evening and it’s swiftly followed with the enigmatic bass line from “If It’s Water“, reminiscent of Fugazi at their peak and with Farina at her best on vocals.
We are reminded that we can still rock whilst seated but also that we cannot take life for granted. You see, the political undertone to accompany such beautifully crafted songs is so much more apparent when you see this band live, as they have time to talk between songs and explain the meanings behind the lyrics. People reading this who are tuned into Mackayes previous bands such as Minor Threat, Fugazi, Skewbald, Egghunt, Embrace and Teen Idles will know all too well that Ian Mackaye has very strong feelings about how the dark side of life drains us. We are talking mainly about Government abuse, how we are conditioned into thinking the way they want us to think, all delivered to us in such a subtle way that it can be overlooked by most of us on a daily basis.
But this undertone is injected into this set in a beautiful way, attributing tracks such as the wonderful “You Won’t Feel a Thing” where the audience is asked to contribute vocals from every seat to finish the song and it’s a real moment for artist and fan as the church becomes a man made choir. It’s a great gig to be watching, they have the audience on their side all night from here on in and they are enjoying every minute of it. They talk to the crowd about how Crystal Palace played the last time they visited and how the show in Bristol was cancelled due to Mackaye being too ill to even talk.
BTW, If you are from Bristol reading this and were looking forward to the show, then he was seriously gutted they didn’t play it and wanted you to know that, so I guess sometimes you have to pass these messages on for the right reasons.
The duo then played a track called “Cut from the Cloth” dedicated to John Loder who passed away last August and was the founder of Southern Records. He had worked with Dischord Records for 21 years, loved his music and dedicated his life to a scene that supported his tastes worldwide. It was a touching moment as the lyrics fell into the angelic surroundings across the pulpit and pillars and merged with “Mount Pleasant Isn’t”. With its upbeat drum beats and quirky message the crowd were called into action again and sung the lyrics “
the Police will not be excused, the police will not behave” that apparently beat the voices at the Welsh show. Sorry Wales, but we were on form tonight.
With thunderous applause filling the church, Ian’s precision plucking started the sleepy melodious drive of “On The Face Of It“. This song is one of my personal favourites on their album, as it is one of those songs that takes you out of normality and directly into cotton wool. It was followed with “All These Governors“, Ian explains how Governments “are like the weather, they come and go“, which lifts the chilled atmosphere, supplying yet another classic song to the static, seated crowd. This is just sublime and by now I am one of 500 people feeling in awe of such a show, it was simply unique.
Mackaye has plenty of time to talk to people all night. He talks about how the i-pod store on Regent Street looked freaky, like a Turkish bath where people bathe in information and how music venues are now cattle farms for youth culture to drop cash into. He had a lot to talk about on the subject of George Bush and how much of a clown that President really is and the songs flowed.
“All You Find You Keep” is followed by the melodic vibes of “Crude Bomb“, Amy is dedicated a track called “Blessed not Lucky“, then Mackaye changes mic’s to support a spotless version of “Minding Ones Business“. This show does not really want to end but does, leaving everybody feeling very special to have witnessed something so pacifying, yet so political. It was very unique setting.
But the communication was clear and bands like The Evens prove you can still get a message out by using music – if only George Bush knew how to rock..
Images on this page borrowed from www.southern.net where you can also read an Ian Mackaye interview about The Evens.
Visit the Dischord site to find out more about the label and order a CD.