LIVE: Thrice / Refused @ Academy 1, Manchester

By Tom Walsh

Tonight is Halloween, and it’s also meant to be the day the UK leaves the European Union. Everywhere you look there are ghouls, hooded figures looking for treats, haunting images of impending doom at every turn… And then there’s all the Halloween stuff.

Brexit hasn’t happened, of course, and as the UK braces for a general election of inflammatory rhetoric, the demonisation of the working class and vacuous statements like “leave means leave” and “the people voted for no-deal”, it seems only appropriate we listen to a “bunch of Swedish guys in skinny jeans talk about politics”. It feels incredibly cathartic to see so many in attendance nodding along to Dennis Lyxzen’s impassioned speech on how capitalism is the great evil in our society. The Refused front man takes a moment in their ferocious support set to ask us “what type of world we want to live in?”, stating that “we live in a world stacked against us”. Lyxzen’s words gain a reception usually reserved for revolutionary rallies as people begin to ponder why, indeed, does the world has so many billionaires. “Capitalism needs to be be destroyed, my friends,” Lyxzen continues, “take down the one per cent”. If there was ever a band to cause a revolution, it would be Refused.

One of the most important bands to ever grace to punk music deliver a masterclass in music to soundtrack an uprising. There are enormous live versions of new tracks ‘REV001’ and the visceral ‘I Wanna Watch The World Burn’, and throwbacks to their seminal 1994 ‘The Shape of Punk To Come’ record with ‘The Deadly Rhythm’ and ‘Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull’. Lyxzen is an encapsulating performer delivering guttural wilhelm screams, throwing out high kicks and gliding across the stage with all the grace of a snake-hipped ballerina. The natural end point is the iconic ‘New Noise’, ending with Refused giving a bow and a final revolutionary salute.

While a performance of this ilk would leave many headline acts trailing in the wake, this is Thrice we’re talking about. Royalty of the post-hardcore genre and a band synonymous with the emo genre of the early noughties, they match the intensity of Refused’s swagger with a melodic, hit-laden set.

They begin, however, with the gentle opening of ‘Only Us’ as Dustin Kensrue’s signature vocals soar over the venue. The ensuing 70 or so minutes is an annotated tour through the band’s extensive back catalogue. There are rapturous receptions for the emo-era classics of ‘Silhouette’ and ‘The Artist in the Ambulance’, which Kensrue summons the growling howls.

Thrice lean on their more recent material with ‘Black Honey’ and ‘Beyond The Pines’ capping a celebration of one of post-hardcore’s more underrated bands. And on a day where our social and economic futures were meant to be put into jeopardy, a celebration of these two bands is something we’d much prefer to be doing on Halloween.