February 16, 2004
NME Tour: Funeral For A Friend/The Rapture/The Von Bondies/Franz Ferdinand : Newcastle University
...you've not choice but to get on your knees and worship...
Forget Songs Of Praise, or whatever people used to do on a
Sunday evening. Right now, there's a new religion in town. Up in Newcastleit's barely 7.30, yet the masses who've congregated here since 2pm (seriously!) are racing around getting bladdered on cheap booze, tearing posters off walls and busting a series of terrifying new dance moves to accompany Franz
Ferdinand[/url]'s triumphant opening set. As the first beer vomit
arrives in the toilets ten minutes after doors open, it's clear that the NMEAwards Tour has landed. In the words of art-pop maestro and Franz frontman Alex Kapranos, "It's like a circus of freaks rolling into town
for people to gawp at".
Yes, something unusual is happening here and we don't just mean
Alex's lovely new pimp shoes. Check out the way
Franz flick a V towards the rule that opening acts should only
serve to soundtrack people getting shit-faced at the bar, instead bouncing,
strutting and thrusting their way through 'Shopping For Blood' and 'Darts Of Pleasure'. Proper Top Ten Hit 'Take Me Out' even signals mass pogo-ing before the watershed, while
Nick and Alex's onstage chemistry fizzles together as they aim their guitars towards each other in time with the cymbal crashes. Give it six months and they'll be robbing each other's flats for crack money, but for now we must treasure this band. If they don't make you want to enroll on German lessons and don 'challenging' trousers then your brain circuits are obviously wired up wrong.
Lesser bands might quiver in the wake of such a triumphant opening. The Von
Bondies[/url], however, won't be soiling their thrift-shop denim for anyone. Instead, they come out fighting with a skull-pounding blur of force-fifty riffs topped with Jason Stollmeister's tortured howl. Sound hassles threaten to drown out their spirit, but by playing as ferociously as a
Detroit bar brawl they meet the challenge head on.
Marcie and Carrie might look all cute by
camouflaging themselves under some seductive hip shaking, but they viciously
pulverise our senses with each chunky glam-soul riff. Massively underrated older tracks are force-fed steroids and ordered to roar, whereas newies like
'C'mon C'mon' do enough tonight to silence the hecklers (sample bitching: "There's only one Jack White!"). Forget media chitter-chatter about black eyes, tonight each frenzied bash of their instruments is a victory blow for the Bondies.
Now for a brief historical interlude. In 19th century America, people getting all
itchy from yellow fever had to have their hands bound together in order to
stop them scratching their own faces off. By way of a parallel, in 21st
century Newcastle you'd need similar restraints to prevent people from shaking their asses off to the glorious party noise of The Rapture[/url]. These disco-poppin' punk-funksters are basically a genetically perfect band. FromLuke Jenners opening wail "loooove is all my crippled soul will ever
need" to new song 'Down For So Long' (think 'Sister Saviour' being sexually
assaulted by a pounding bassline) or the moment he throws himself into the crowd, it's soulful, life-affirming stuff. "It felt like I was being eaten alive out
there," Luke gulps as he walks offstage. "But in a good way." Well, obviously.
Even the weirdo who was so pissed by 7.45pm that he attempted to urinate in a sink finds a new lease of life thanks to their PiL-nailed-on-pills freaky-dance anthems. He grabs strangers in the crowd and yells 'Are you havin' a good time?' The official response? 'Fuck yeah!'
Even in such a booze-sodden party environment there are appetites for
destruction left unsated. It's down to Funeral For A
Friend[/url] to truly satisfy the gang of extremo-crazed nutjobs who've been baying for blood since they legged it down to the front barriers three hours ago. Ok, so to some FFAF's post-hardcore influences might seem a bit well-trodden. But watching them onstage as they commit ungodly assaults on their instruments is an experience that doesn't so much unite the audience as make them tremble in tandem. Tracks like 'She Drove Me To Daytime Television' dislodge vital bodily organs through sheer force, the crowd respond by wailing "I'm just another line in your book," during 'Juneau' and generally bashing the hell
out of each other down the front. As the noise reverberates around
Glasgow, even the bookish indie-kids who've been shaking their skinny asses to Franz can't help but choke on their Kafka at the sheer might of the Funeral live show.
And with that it's over, leaving Newcastle gobsmacked, awe-struck, bedazzled, mind-blown, drunk and wondering just how they're gonna get the stains out oftheir kecks. Inside the venue, there's one girl who won't be joining the after-party. She's still on the floor, cradling a set-list and telling her friends she's too exhausted to get up. Fair enough. Because when this travelling circus of freaks pulls into town, you've not choice but to get on your knees and worship.
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