LIVE: The Bronx @ The Key Club, Leeds

By Tom Walsh

If there was any lingering doubt that The Bronx were back to their swaggering, rampant best with the release of ‘V’, there was one simply way to dispel it: play it in full, live.

Back in the UK for a brief sojourn around these snow-covered streets, the LA punks are taking the unusual approach of rattling through their latest offering in its entirety. A tour of this size is usually a crowd pleasing thrash of the hits to remind everyone that they still exist, so it’s quite a jump into the unknown to offer up new material for a straight 30 minutes.

Others may have feared trepidation. The dread of completely misreading the room, misjudging the album’s reception. It could go horribly wrong. But this train of thought misses a key point – this is The Bronx. This Leeds gig sold out in a matter of hours, and this is going to be a hell of a party.

From the moment the first chord of opener ‘Night Drop At The Glue Factory’ rings out, the sea of bodies removes all doubt. Each track of ‘V’ is greeted like a stadium anthem, front man Matt Caughthran is beckoned into the madness and he leads the chorus line in the visceral assault that is ‘Fill The Tanks’.

Caughthran has a charming aura around him, and he uses the brief respite between songs to sound out loud his own internal monologues. Taking aim at the state of Taco Bell in the UK (“they’re not the same, man!”), the fact that it’s a weekday (“hey, fuck Tuesday!) and when his fields for audience requests are met with calls for the Spice Girls, he retorts, “you guys have really terrible taste in music”.

These breathers give way to more chaos, as The Bronx bear their melodic muscles with the grooving ‘Sore Throat’ and ‘Kingsize’. Playing a new album front to back on the first tour of a foreign land for the best part of five years? All in a night’s work for The Bronx, and as Caughthran hops back onto the floor, there grows a fevered anticipation for what’s coming next.

A hush descends, a pin drops in the distance, beads of sweat silently fall, and then the opening riff of ‘Heart Attack American’ tears the room apart. The next half an hour is a celebration of band and audience. Bodies fly, lungs are screamed out, Caughthran is paraded around like a Super Bowl winning coach – this is the party everyone came for.

Caughthran declares ‘Knifeman’ as being “the closest thing The Bronx have to a mission statement”, ‘Shitty Future’ becomes the anthem of the downbeat, while tonight’s rendition of ‘White Guilt’ has strangers embracing, lovers falling into tired arms and friends serenading one another. Whatever is left in the tank is squeezed out with chaotic versions of ‘They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy)’ and set closer ‘History’s Stranglers’.

The lights are blazed back on and like an apparition, The Bronx are gone into the snowy night. This is how album shows are supposed to be done.