The Mercury League – London Camden Underworld

By Andy

It’s always a treat to walk into a venue and be blown away before I’ve even taken a breath, but tonight BREAKNECK do just that. Powered by some stunning musicianship (in particular the ever-duelling guitars) and enough kinetic energy to tire out a nymphomaniac on speed, the South London crew prove themselves to be a force to be reckoned with in terms of live performances. Mixing the brutal melodies of Rise Against with Kid Dynamite‘s sheer speed and force they garnered enough applause from the meagre crowd to suggest that given a bit more support they could soon be on the way to greatness, and on tonight’s performance it’s no small wonder. If you like lacerating riffs and punchy drums, go see Breakneck (Cool.

I saw THE MERCY SUITE at an all-dayer in Manchester a few months ago and was nothing more than mildly interested. Good thing that they cranked out a show tonight that blew the cobwebs from my ears and made the index finger on my right hand literally quiver. Playing a particularly vicious brand of melodic punk rock that could make the Pope want a beer, TML succeed because they play like their lives depend on it ? the intensity and ferocity with which the riffs jackknife out of the amps is so impressive that even if punk rock isn’t your thing you can’t help but watch them. Mixing in tour-related banter with The Mercury League helped because it seemed like they knew the whole crowd by name, it was a pleasure to be subject to an aural battering of this nature (9).

Unfortunately PENDLETON can’t live up to the pace. While there’s something undeniably impressive about them, live they couldn’t quite cope with the slathering of hype that appears to be gathering. Flashes of genius were reserved for scattered moments and the disintegration into a Finch-like display of emotive screaming at the end was the dictionary definition of ?ill-advised.? Their mix of crunchy skate punk, technical frippery and pop melodies needs a little more refinement if it’s to stand up next to bands like The Mercury League et al, but perhaps their slightly more commercial rock poses (the amount of guitar-brandishing in one set was staggering) will put them in good stead for the inevitable assault on the nation’s ears. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a fine young band but I’d like to see what they come up with when they create music of their own without seemingly having an ear out for what’s popular at the moment (6).

I didn’t pay much attention to THE LOBOTOMIES because what I heard was a rehashing of the same old-school punk rock n’ roll that has been doing the rounds on every punk bill since before I was even an embryo.

But when THE MERCURY LEAGUE step up (pun fully intended) expectations shoot skywards because the simple fact is that this band never disappoints. As Goo leaps about during the intro to ?Step Up? and it looks like Greg’s going to do himself a serious injury with the amount of flailing he’s doing, Dan screams bloody murder into the microphone and, subtitled by Benson’s insanely fast drumming, TML slot into the melodic hardcore groove they have made their own in this country. They are the most divine combination of melody and rhythm that it is possible to come up with, as ?Raise The Bar? sends the all-too-sparse crowd into paroxysms of delight and ?Oh! The Mercy? provides the perfect release for those of us that want nothing more than to scream words because they mean something to us. When the crashing harmonies of ?A Silence? wash over you when you’re a matter of inches away from one of the most brilliantly intense live bands in the country it’s hard not to feel like the glorious noise battering the hell out of your inner ear isn’t the sound of pure exultant joy, ringing long into next morning as a reminder that yes, you saw something special (10).