Sunday, 30 September 2007

Misfits @ Manchester Academy - 29 Sept 2007

Went to Manchester last night to see The Misfits.

I have never seen the 'fits before, although they are one of the 1st bands that I got into as a teen. I was a Queen fan from about the age of 11 or 12, then got into loads of different rock and metal (and other dubious stuff that I prefer not to mention right now) and then finally got into The Misfits when I was about 17 (I'm 33 now). I remember finding out about them quite by accident and all on my own - nobody else that I hung round with was into them, and that was kind of part of what made them so cool. Being into The misfits on your own pretty much makes you a misfit, that's what I liked about them.

Tonight's gig was filled to the brim with people of all ages and walks of life, all brought together under one roof through their love for this band. Unfortunately though, today's Misfits are not the same band that I got into all that time ago - it's almost as though the current incarnation is a manufactured money making version of them; a product that has been put together especially to sell t-shirts, toys and other "scarified" accessories (at inflated prices) with the Misfits logo plastered all over them. Let's be quite clear, this is not the same band that I remember. But they did play a lot of the old songs, and they played them very, very well.

I can't remember even half of tonight's setlist but it started off like something from a teenage dream: all of the stuff that I used to listen to on a walkman on a constant loop, all played flawlessly with precision and in the horrified Misfits style. They played it all so fast and with hardly and gaps between the songs too, it was song after song of my boyhood favourites. Halloween, I Turned Into A Martian, Astro Zombies, Vampira, Ghoul's Night Out, Green Hell, Some Kinda Hate, Skulls... all the old horror punk classics. They even threw in a couple of Black Flag songs too.

The Manchester crowd was pretty up for it too, there was a decent pit and I made sure to be right there in the thick of it, screaming out the lyrics at the top of my lungs. I noticed, as soon as a song would start the pit would go berserk for about 30 seconds, then it would suddenly start slowing down - all the young lads weren't able to keep the momentum going and all the older guys didn't have the stamina and were out of breath after too long. But since Misfits songs are only about 90 seconds long anyway, it didn't really matter! Every 2 minutes another song popped up and the pit whirred back into a frenzy for a short burst before changing down a few gears ready for the next tune to kick in. All the while there was me, running around like a sweaty bald lunatic, hugging punks and screaming about zombies and aliens. Awesome stuff.

Then, half way through the set, the band stopped playing the old stuff and started playing the new Misfits material.

Let me take a moment to explain about the "new stuff". You see, The Misfits originally got together in 1977 and split up on Halloween of 1983, that was the end of the classic line up. But in 1997 "The Misfits" released a new album, written by a new line-up of band members. Only the bass player from the original line up is now in the band and he never wrote any of the classic songs. Now - I have never seen the "new" Misfits as being authentic, to me they're a very good cover band, but nothing more. I've never listened to the new material in anything more than a passing way, never wanted to listen to it either. It's quite embarrassing, quite frankly. If you ask me that is - others would contest my opinion on that.

I appreciate that, in their new incarnation, The Misfits are now more popular than ever (not always a good thing) and the new material has helped to revive them and as a result they have toured and release new material every few years. What we have now is what I would call "The New Misfits", a merchandising product. The band I saw tonight have nothing new to offer, they're a nostalgia act raking in money playing songs from a long-dead punk band. This is the main reason that I have never been to see them live before tonight, the new line-up has always been a bit of a joke band to me. But then, I am biased because I had such a good time listening to The Misfits when I was as a kid.

The second half of tonight's show, for me, was a case of standing at the side and watching a tribute band play songs inspired by a classic punk rock act. Nothing more than that. I also was quite bemused with the antics out of the pit when the new material was played! They mainly ran about slapping each other, or danced on the spot in an "epileptic fit" kind of way. I can't rightly say what the pit looked like for the 1st half of the show (because I was in it), but I certainly hope it didn't look like the mass of epileptic seizures that I witnessed during the 2nd half of the set. It was like watching people trying to create a pit atmosphere, but had no idea on how to achieve it. Maybe it was all of the "new" Misfits fans trying their best to "mosh" or soemthing; a lot of the "old" Misfits fans had walked to the sides of the hall during the new songs. It was a huge pit though, even bigger for the newer songs than the old ones! Not knowing (or enjoying watching) any of the new songs being performed kinda sucked the wind out of my proverbial sails and I couldn't get back into the swing of things when they played a few more of the old tunes for an encore. They played We Are 138 as an encore too - my favourite 'fits tune.

All in all I really enjoyed seeing the Misfits at long last, although it would have been a much better show (in my opinion) if they'd just stuck with the original material and not bothered with any of the "new" stuff. But then, I suppose they aren't gigging for the sake of it and those lunch boxes won't sell themselves now will they. Also you could see that fans of the new Misfits material really did seem to love all that new stuff, in their emo kind of way. Bring your brain medicine with you next time lads.

(PS - I think that I did quite well writing all of that out without mentioning Danzig even once. Until now.)

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Ramesses / Unearthly Trance

Another gig tonight, number 25 of the year for me, this time it was at the Star & Garter pub in Manchester (right next to Piccadilly train station). The first time I went to the S&G was to see Jesu when they played on 6/6/6, that was a great night of music too. Star & Garter has one of the loudest sound systems I've ever heard - I am presently sat here writing this, half deaf, thanks to the sheer volume of it in fact.

I really enjoyed tonight's gig. I'd never seen either Ramesses or Unearthly Trance before this show, both of them are three-piece bands with doom elements to their music. I especially enjoyed Ramesses, their set tonight was very tight, slow and heavy. Unearthly Trance were a surprise to me, all of the band members look more like they could be from a hardcore punk band rather than a doom / black metal band. Plus they are from Brooklyn in New York, not so well known for black metal! Their set was all good stuff, they even stayed on for an encore and played an 11 minute track to finish off the evening.