Alexisonfire – Leeds Met Uni

By paul

The sound at Leeds University Refectory is nearly always bloody awful. I’ve been to some gigs that have been absolutely ruined by the atrocious sound, in what basically amounts to a long thin canteen. It’s also nearly always full of idiots, and tonight is no exception. Throughout the night there are several morons who have probably only paid the œ17 entrance fee so they can hit other people. Spinning around with your arms out like a helicopter makes you look like a cocknose, whoever is on stage. The two guys doing the windmill/wheelbarrow/inappropriate-sexing routine to every band only serve to underline just how ridiculous music audiences are getting. It seems to be about showing off. Who can do the biggest spin kick, whilst wearing the pointiest winklepickers with the most hair cuts on one head.

Thank fuck then for Ghost Of A Thousand who literally tear Leeds a new arsehole. They not only manage to completely sidestep every fashion victim in the crowd effortlessly, they also manage to dispel the ‘Refectory Sound Is Always Awful’ myth. The sound is perfect, as clear as day, and more importantly the band are perfect. It’s almost like listening to the latest record, put through an rage filter. I can’t remember the last time I witnessed such a tight band utterly destroy an unwitting crowd like this – Tom Lacey spends the entirety of two songs in the crowd causing chaos and before you know it the set is over and people are picking themselves up off the floor (literally) and heading for the merch table.

It’s all a far cry from Four Year Strong‘s performance who start their set with a massive following which dwindles slowly until most people are queuing for beer at the end. Four Year Strong‘s set sounds like Four Year Strong moved next door to record their new album, got drunk, didn’t bother to record any new material at all and just put on their old album really loudly and started shouting along to it out of tune as loudly as possible. The band are sloppy, the vocals are awful and the set is two years old. The band even manage to completely bypass any material from their recent and mostly brilliant covers album – baffling.

Anti Flag are the perfect band for this sort of occasion – plenty of sing along songs, anthemic fist punching and lots of easy rhetoric to stir up the crowd. Anti Flag are a bit hit and miss on occasion, but tonight they’re mostly hit. Once they get over the obligatory “check your prejudices at the door” speech they don’t look back – Chris #2 is a great frontman and whenever he manages to stop preaching the band are in their element. The world is a different place in 2009 to when Anti-Flag started with their rage at everything polemic, but as long as they keep playing Die For Your Government with such verve, relevance makes no difference.

Ending the night, Alexisonfire dish out what you expect – tight and muscular, it’s a set full of solid gold. Tracks off the latest album (particularly the split title tracks, Old Crows and Young Cardinals and the bloody marvellous Accept Crime) sound even better live, whilst the bulk of the set made up from Crisis still sounds as exciting today as it did in 2006 (take note FYS). George Petit remains an enigma – a man so full of energy and mania on stage, he still looks embarrassed between songs after 8 years of touring – it doesn’t matter though, as Wade does plenty of talking. Dallas Green remains the linchpin though, and is note perfect throughout. More importantly, the band look like they’re enjoying it – previously they’ve looked a little bit like they’ve been going through the motions but tonight they bound around like they started the band yesterday.