Hundred Reasons : Nottingham Rock City

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

“Get on your knees for saviors” [a]Hundred Reasons[/a]’ curly maned singer Colin Doran bellows on rock juggernaut ‘Savannah’ during tonight’s long-awaited live comeback. This unusually extroverted acknowledgment of [a]Hundred Reasons[/a]’ 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 [a]Biffy Clyro[/a] and [a]Hell Is For Heroes[/a] constituting their nearest competition.

On their live return tonight, however, [a]Hundred Reasons[/a] have thrust themselves back into a Britrock climate that’s positively utopian by comparison. [a]The Darkness[/a] and [a]Lostprophets[/a] are staking serious claims for world domination, [a]Snow Patrol[/a] and Ze [a]Franz Ferdinand[/a] are lording it in the charts and another wave of bands – the likes of [a]The Open[/a], [a]Your Code Name Is: Milo[/a] 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 [a]Hundred Reasons[/a] 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, [a]Hundred Reasons[/a] 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 [a]Scissor Sisters[/a]-loving fashionista in sight. [a]Hundred Reasons[/a]’ disciples are as proudly uncool, unfashionable and zeitgeist-allergic as their heroes. As Doran acknowledges during frantic set-closer ‘Silver’, with [a]Hundred Reasons[/a] you can simply “take it or leave it”. For those about to rock… you know what to do.

Rick Martin