Finally, ‘The Gig That Would Never Happen’ has arrived. It’s hard to imagine how the Swedish quintet could have emphasised their (arguably premature) demise more strongly than recording a song called ‘Refused Are Fucking Dead’, but it’s amazing what time can heal. Fourteen years later, they’re back, and after incendiary performances at Coachella, Groezrock and Download festivals (amongst others), Dennis Lyxzen’s crew are back in London to play to far many more people than they did in their original incarnation.
London quartet Pettybone are powerful and bleak as hell, and certainly don’t sound like a band on the verge of splitting up. They deserve all the attention they get, but ultimately the crowd are here for one band only.
It’s inevitable that Refused’s set leans heavily on their classic ‘The Shape Of Punk To Come…’ record, but it’s surprising how fresh and relevant these songs sound after all this time; the stop-start riffs of the opening ‘Worms Of The Senses…’ whipping the floor into a frenzy.
The band sound and look fantastic, and set against a simple backdrop with good use of lighting, they’re more than happy to let the songs do the talking. By the time Lyxzen has crouched on an upturned monitor for ‘I’d Rather Be Dead’ and clambered up the Forum’s side staircase for ‘Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine’, the energy levels have gone through the roof – and remain there.
It is, of course, an encore airing of their signature track ‘New Noise’ which truly unites all present, and gives the Forum’s foundations a serious test in the process. Refused are a band who’ve frequently had the ‘legendary’ tag thrown at them in the last decade and a half, and tonight, they more than justify it.