Brand New: Hammersmith Apollo, London; Tuesday, February 13
Same band, brand new tracks. If only all rebirths could work this well
Given the might, majesty and bowel-quivering rock greatness of their recent album, it’s frustrating and confusing that Brand New take an hour and a half to reach a single tune from it. Perhaps it’s their unflinching awkwardness (this is a band that refuses to do photo shots, and barely do interviews, after all). Or maybe they just enjoy teasing expectations to breaking point. Whatever – their previous two efforts were mediocre at best, and get played tonight almost in their entireties, while there’s barely a look in for their bold, progressive third album ‘The Devil & God Are Raging Inside Me’, which saw the band ditch the traditional emo sound for a record more indebted to the indie-rock touchstones of Dinosaur Jr, Pixies, and even Radiohead.
Eventually, though, our patience is rewarded. After throwing themselves into the brilliant ‘Sowing Season’, they play 20 minutes straight of the most amazingly thrilling, unique, beautiful, challenging rock’n’roll NME has ever seen.
Indeed, they’re barely recognisable from the band who went before, and this sudden collision of strut and sorrow and endearingly bleak vulnerability paints a band akin to what we always hoped emo would sound like. ‘Jesus Christ’ follows, an enchanting dose of what happens when pounding hearts and guitars collide, punctuated by the closing opus of ‘You Won’t Know’, a song that sounds like Jane’s Addiction communicating directly with God via the medium of electric humbucker. NME’s mind is blown, and – after the aching muscles and clock-watching of the early passages – it serves to underline that Brand New are a band reborn. As Jesse Lacey drops to his knees in a pedal-twiddling frenzy, we feel like joining him to thank some pagan god that this band are among us. If only they would let go of the past.