LIVE: Ceremony / High–Vis / Child’s Pose @ New Cross Inn, London

By Greg Hyde

For Ceremony’s first London show since August 2015, they chose an unassuming, 350–capacity pub in South East London for the venue, and sold it out weeks in advance. It means that, on this miserable Monday night, the New Cross Inn is teeming with body heat, sweat, and anticipation – and foremost in the minds of some attendees is the issue of whether the band’s set tonight will focus on the hardcore material from their first three albums, or lean more towards the garage/post-punk/new wave songs on their last three.

Kicking things off are Child’s Pose, a London indie–punk four–piece comprising members of Sauna Youth and Self Defense Family. Their first songs are unremarkable, but the latter half of their seven–song set picks up the pace and the energy of their lead vocalist generates a mood of excitement within the growing crowd. Fellow Londoners High–Vis take to the stage next and play an enjoyable set of college rock–infused post–hardcore that recalls Hüsker Dü, Praise, and ‘Hyperview’–era Title Fight. It’s a lot of fun and serves as a nice foretaste of the energy that may be on display at a headline High–Vis show.

All of this, however, serves as a pre–amble to the main attraction. Ceremony take to the stage at 10.10pm with a different rhythm section than usual, and proceed to smash through a 50–minute, 16–song set that surpasses all the crowd’s expectations. They open with ‘Presaging the End’, the strongest song on new album ‘In the Spirit World Now’. The crowd are buoyant and enjoy the song, but it’s not until Ceremony segue into ‘Pressure’s On’ from their 2006 debut ‘Violence Violence’ that the pit really opens up and older members of the crowd draw back to give the boisterous youngsters present the chance to throw down.

They then play ‘Open Head’ from 2010’s ‘Rohnert Park’, which generates a very enthusiastic response from the audience. This turns out to  be the joint most well-represented album at the show, with no fewer than four songs played from it – the others being ‘The Doldrums (Friendly City)’, ‘Terminal Addiction’, and ‘Sick’. Any fears fans may have had about songs from ‘In the Spirit World Now’ and 2015’s ‘The L–Shaped Man’ dragging the pace down prove ill–founded as they are imbued with far more energy in a live setting than they were in their studio iterations, particularly ‘Turn Away the Bad Thing’. The moshpit responds to them well too, only turning the violence down a couple of notches when they are played.

Even more surprising is how much a cover version of Gary Numan’s ‘Cars’, played halfway through the set, gets the crowd dancing. The night’s biggest singalongs, though, are reserved for ‘Hysteria’ (the only song played from 2012 album ‘Zoo’) and the closing one–two punch of ‘Sick’ and ‘Kersed’, with the fans going berserk during the latter song.

While they may have transitioned away from hardcore with their last three albums, tonight Ceremony put on a show that’s as energetic, abrasive, and good–naturedly violent as the best of them – whether they intended to or not.