[B]3CR[/B] hark back to the age of [B]Thin Lizzy[/B] et al, where a rock band didn't have to proffer a scarred set of forearms to be taken seriously, where rock'n'roll was something to be enjoyed,

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It comes deep in the encore, the audience bellowing lustily along with singer Pete Vuckovic to ‘Anarchy In The UK‘: [I]”I am the Antichrist/I am an anarchist…”[/I]

And it is at this moment that Alan McGee‘s claim that 3 Colours Red are a Sex Pistols for the ’90s falls apart. Because 3 Colours Red are the point where the two decades or so of bloody-minded tribalism and self-defeating anti-heroism for which the Pistols were apparently the dawn, fall to dust.

Let’s rewind, shall we? To 30 minutes before the gig, perhaps, guitarist Chris McCormack‘s palm literally bleeding from all the hands he’s shaken. Or to minutes before the Reds step onstage, the moshpit (which seemingly tails from the stage round to the venue’s entrance) chanting, “Red, Red” like this incantation could raise Lazarus.

Or back to second song ‘This Is My Hollywood’, where the touchpaper catches and the electrified guitars and testosterone-fuelled chorus ignite the oxygen in the room and reduce the atmosphere to a sublime throbbing blue strobe. Or to ‘Sixty Mile Smile’, the call to Belfast’s youth to just go as fucking wild as is possible in such restrained environs, its insolent refrain streaming through the room like righteous sunshine.

Just why, you’re already asking, are 3 Colours Red – all furnace guitars, barked vocals, and chantalong terrace choruses – so darned popular? Especially when we’ve all decided that rock’n’roll doesn’t sell records any more, dahhhhhling!

The answer might be in ‘Beautiful Day’, 3CR‘s recent bona fide hit record, the song that people who don’t listen to popular records think sounds like Bryan Adams (hell, 3CR do the whole modern MOR thing a helluva lot better than the bloodless Manics). In the way it’s affecting without ever being cloying or lumpen in its delivery, in the way it speaks volumes for 3 Colours Red‘s belief in rock’n’roll and its perpetual ability to move and communicate to people. You think it’s mawkish and overblown? The way 3CR deliver it tonight reduces that cynicism to the emotionally cowardly bullshit it is.

Back when the sneer was all, and an opportunist out to sell a job lot of bondage trousers saw the future in ‘No Future’, it seemed a blast to blow apart the language and syntax of rock’n’roll and create something new. But now things have come full circle; the rock’n’roll punk eventually delivered us – cynical, distrusting, stale – is dying. 3CR hark back to the age of Thin Lizzy et al, where a rock band didn’t have to proffer a scarred set of forearms to be taken seriously, where rock’n’roll was something to be enjoyed, not subverted. One feels that 3CR‘s biggest sin seems to be enjoying what they do, embracing rather than belittling their audience, being heroes without being arrogant assholes. And then you lock eyes with a pirouetting kid, effortlessly pouring sweat and joy, and you think, more fool us.