New York Hardcore Invades Bristol
While many British fans were disappointed to see that the proposed tour featuring Sick Of It All and Sepultura would not be coming to the United Kingdom (Sepultura has since been replaced on the tour by D.R.I.,) they were more than compensated with the news that Sick Of It All would be coming to Great Britain after all, and that they would be bringing fellow New York hardcore icons Madball with them.
Although I arrived a little late to catch the start of opening band, No Warning Shot, I was still able to catch around half of their set. This marked my second time seeing No Warning Shot, having previously seen them in April opening for Sick Of It All (whose singer Lou Koller stood next to me throughout much of their set tonight) and once again, the band put on a fantastic display. It came as a surprise to learn that the band doesn't perform regularly because they are perhaps one of the best hardcore bands going if in the United Kingdom, or at least the West Country. Their banter with the Welsh patrons was hilarious and the group have a sense of fun mixed with intensity, much like the evening's headliners. I would honestly recommend fans of hardcore from all over the world to try and get hold of the band's EP.
The first group of hardcore legends to take the stage was Madball, who opened with the classic, "Set It Off." Truely the song sounds as devastating today as it did when it was first released in 1994. Frontman Freddy Cricien is still an unmatchable force on stage and his voice was in perfect shape on this night, tearing through classics both old and new along with long time bassist Hoya Roc, guitarist Mitts and new drummer Igor (who I had mistaken for former Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera. To be fair he does look like him.) The West Country crowd loved every second of Madball's performance and receieved the new material from the band's recent release, "Empire" with open arms, being treated to the title track as well as "R.A.H.C." Of course, the staples went down a storm too, with "Heavenhell" being the latest song to be considered an honest Madball classic, along with "Down By Law" and set closer, "Pride." the audience greeted these songs with moshing, headbanging and sing alongs. Exactly the way a hardcore show should be. Frankly, the show could have ended after Madball and everyone would have gone home happy.
That said, there were four more legends yet to grace the stage. Sick Of It All is definitely one of, if not the best hardcore group to ever release a record, and their live performances are second to none, a statement which they backed up themselves on this cold Bristol night. Kicking things off with "Good Lookin' Out," the brilliant opening song from 1997's, "Built To Last" album, the band captured the excitement of every member of the crowd and fed off their energy perfectly. More recent songs followed suit, with "Death Or Jail," the single from their excellent new album, "Based On A True Story," and "Uprising Nation" from 2006's "Death To Tyrants" being memorised by around 90% of the crowd. Although there were a few sound issues to begin with, these were rectified quite quickly and the band continued to put on an excellent performance, aided largely by material from their new album, which also included the songs, "The Divide," "Good Cop," "A Month Of Sundays" and "Waiting For The Day," all of which are frankly outstanding.
As one would expect, the older material wasn't left out either, as the band showcased songs from their debut full length, "Blood, Sweat & No Tears" as well as the standard, but by no means ordinary, airings of such classics as "Step Down," "Scratch The Surface" and "Injustice System." One of the things that makes a Sick Of It All show so spectacular is the raport that they have with the audience, joking with them, taking song requests (which resulted in a brilliant cover of Sham 69's "Borstal Breakout") and playfully demanding five pounds from a fan for stage diving while no music was being played. Set closer "Us Vs. Them" capped off what was a truely a magical evening for fans of hardcore.
One can only hope that both bands return to the British Isles as soon as possible.
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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