LIVE: No Warning / Risk It! @ The Dome, London

By Glen Bushell

Around the turn of the century, No Warning were the most sought after modern hardcore band in the world. Second only to American Nightmare, their influence could be heard in countless bands, and to this day, their debut album ‘Ill Blood’ remains one of the best contemporary hardcore records of all time. In a bizarre turn of events, they would go on to sign with Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park’s label, Machine Shop Records, and release the nu-metal influenced album ‘Suffer Survive’. While it retained some of the heaviness of their early material, it was a far more commercial affair. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last long, and by 2005 they would disband.

Since then, frontman Ben Cook has had a successful career in numerous bands, including Fucked Up, as well as releasing some fantastic solo material under his stage name, Young Guv. Guitarist Jordan Posner is also a member of Los Angeles hardcore band, Terror. For years the idea of No Warning reuniting seemed impossible, and for many, to see them would be nothing but a dream. However, as the hardcore scene should know by now, you never say never. After what was intended to be a one off 7” with ‘Resurrection of The Wolf’ in 2013, they made their surprise return as headliners at Ieperfest 2014 in Belgium.

Bringing us to The Dome in Tufnell Park, and No Warning’s first ever UK show. There is certainly a mixed vibe of anticipation, and trepidation in the air. Though it is not a sold out show, nothing stops German hardcore band Risk It! from doing their best to warm tonight’s crowd up. You can hear that they take a large degree of influence from tonight’s headliners, and aren’t bringing much to the table in terms of originality. Regardless, they are competent musicians, and their sound is big – inciting more movement (on a sparse dance floor) than usually seen from a support band.

Things start to fill up considerably by the time No Warning take the stage, and from the opening riff of ‘Behind These Walls’ The Dome descends into absolute chaos. This is undoubtedly the first time that most of the audience has seen the Canadian quintet, and it shows – letting out over 10 years of repressed energy through ‘No Time For You’, and what is seen as the quintessential No Warning anthem, ‘Short Fuse’.

Their set is understandably heavy on ‘Ill Blood’, but they do touch on ‘Suffer Survive’ with a frantic run through ‘Modern Eyes’. They also show they are still an untouchable hardcore band with newer track ‘Resurrection Of The Wolf’ sounding huge. As they dig a little deeper into their back catalogue, airing ‘ A Day In The Life’ and ‘Almost There’, the crowd seems to lose some of the spark they had at the start. It doesn’t stop No Warning from giving it everything they have during ‘Dirtier Than The Next’, with Cook’s voice noticeably on point during the melodic middle section.

One thing that could be seen as criticism, but is actually endearing in No Warning, is the slight arrogance the band hold. They know they are very good at what they do, and know this is something a lot of people have longed to see. Rather than being ignorant, Ben Cook is a far more charismatic frontman than most, and guitarist Matt Delong’s flamboyant, Keith Richards-esque confidence is backed up with his ability to shred with the best of them. Their set concludes with ‘My World’, leading into the crushing title track from ‘Ill Blood’ – and with no encore or posturing, they leave London a battered and sweaty mess.

With so many half-hearted reunions occurring over the last few years, No Warning’s has been so far removed from that, it is almost like they never went away. Beyond the live performances, the future of the band still remains to be seen. However, the void they left in 2005 hasn’t been – and probably never will be – completely filled. It’s great if they are here to stay, but if this is all it is, they have kept their legacy firmly intact.