Hundred Reasons : Nottingham Rock City

For those about to rock... you know what to do...

"Get on your knees for saviors" Hundred Reasons' curly maned singer Colin Doran bellows on rock juggernaut 'Savannah' during tonight's long-awaited live comeback. This unusually extroverted acknowledgment of Hundred Reasons' own greatness is totally justified, if not a little belated. Back in 2002, when Britrock lived in the shadow of the scuzzy-sexy-cool garage rock invasion, the release of the Aldershot scruffs' debut 'Ideas Above Our Station' saw these five average blokes recognized as torchbearing saviors, with only underachievers like Biffy Clyro and Hell Is For Heroes constituting their nearest competition.

On their live return tonight, however, Hundred Reasons have thrust themselves back into a Britrock climate that's positively utopian by comparison. The Darkness and Lostprophets are staking serious claims for world domination, Snow Patrol and Ze Franz Ferdinand are lording it in the charts and another wave of bands - the likes of The Open, Your Code Name Is: Milo and Imran And The Viceroys - are already hot on their heels. With the competition for Britrock supremacy fiercer than ever, it's tangible from the outset tonight that Hundred Reasons are out to prove they can still cut it. However, seeing as it was their ball-bursting gigs that got them noticed in the first place, this is a feat they achieve with effortless ease.

Once opener 'If I Could' has lit the touchpaper, Hundred Reasons reveal themselves as rejuvenated, refreshed and - get this - even LOUDER than before. Older songs like 'I'll Find You' and 'Falter' have now evolved from emo-stained singalongs into stadium-sized colossi, whilst there's few frontmen that can match Colin Doran for inexorable energy. Bounding around the stage with a renewed sense of purpose and urgency, at times tonight he's reminiscent - in terms of his moves as well as the ever-present barnet - of Jonathan Creek with a ferret down his kecks.

The most impressive aspect of tonight, though, is the influx of songs from new album 'Shatterproof Is Not A Challenge'. 'Stories With Unhappy Endings' and 'Pop' take the regular HR aesthetic - Doran's roar, anthemic choruses and Larry Hibbert's tumultuous guitars - and injects it with a darker, more menacing undercurrent. Whereas their downfall on record can be an occasional descent into stodge, 'My Sympathy' and 'Savannah' are subjected to a strict Atkins diet, but instead of increased protein intake and all that bollocks, they've been fed a steady dose of punk fury. Meanwhile 'What You Get' - the ace in tonight's pack - is so explosive that al-Quaida should be frantically searching for its blueprint.

All this and there isn't a Scissor Sisters-loving fashionista in sight. Hundred Reasons' disciples are as proudly uncool, unfashionable and zeitgeist-allergic as their heroes. As Doran acknowledges during frantic set-closer 'Silver', with Hundred Reasons you can simply "take it or leave it". For those about to rock... you know what to do.

Rick Martin

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