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Against Me - Joseph's Wells, Leeds, 29/5/2004

  by Alex Halls

published: 18 / 5 / 2004

Against Me - Joseph's Wells, Leeds, 29/5/2004


Against Me have gained a reputation as being one of the best live acts around. Alex Halls in Leeds watches them "play punk rock...with its original anarchic feel" and more than match up to the hype

Named after the first European (that’s the Viking, not the Italian they told you about at school) to set their eyes upon the shores of North America, Leif Ericsson entered as the first of the bigger named groups of the night. With a surprisingly large fan-base, the Manchester-based group are akin to their name, through raucous vocals, gritty guitaring and an evident need to  impose themselves wherever they travel. Leif Ericsson are more than bearable and added to the quality on show in Leeds tonight, helping support the other bands who’d assisted in driving the crowd wild tonight. Next up were Norfolk’s Vanilla Pod, back after lead guitarist Steve’s introduction into fatherhood. Vanilla Pod represent what is right about the UK punk scene: they are melodic, catchy but punk through and through. Old songs were there, such as 'Big Decision', as well as tracks off the 2003 release, 'Surrounded By Idiots'. Vanilla Pod are now even better, eager to satisfy, entertain and sporting a hunger to play often lacking from modern bands. I was bowled over last time they graced Leeds with their presence: this time they took my breath away! It would be hard to find punk more eclectic than Against Me on a night such as this. There are ska elements floating around amongst melodic hardcore as well as those deep rooted punk fundamentals: sweat and aggression. With no clearly definable genre, Against Me are difficult to get into regardless of whether you are keen on each style they incorporate. They do, however, present punk rock with its original uninhibited vocals and empowering guitars. Originally formed as a folk anarcho-punk band in Gainsville, Florida, Against Me have developed into much more. You can still see that folk inclusion within some songs but the whole package has become electrifyingly varied. Above the folk, the anarchist tendencies remain. After all, someone doesn’t just drop who they are overnight. The lyrics are indicative of these tendencies, jibing at the liberals’ lack of action and at how America and justice are not synonymous: all this before we’ve even started on the music. Having moved from No Idea records onto Fat Wreck, amongst sighs of disbelief and horror, Against Me have proved not to to have been swayed by the Fat label’s more commercial outlook on life. Tonight’s performance went a long way to justifying the move as there is not a hint of commercialism in sight. All efforts that may have been made in polishing the last record, 'The Eternal Cowboy', are left where they should be on tour: in the studio! With rolling drum intros and a high level of showmanship, all in the name of the music, of course, Against Me prove worthy of the title of one of the best live acts around at present. They engage the crowd with their ability to build intros into highly gelled songs; creating anticipation amongst all onlookers at what is about the be unravelled before their eyes. Ranging from the heavy to the light and airy, the performance entertained within the confines of Joseph’s Well, and undoubtedly left a mark on an unequivocally pleased audience. Ending the night amid a hail of rapturous applause, Against Me have done well on their European quest and will almost certainly have claimed the plaudits based on this effort. It’s great to see punk rock played with its original anarchic feel; long may it continue.

Picture Gallery:-
Against Me - Joseph's Wells, Leeds, 29/5/2004

Against Me - Joseph's Wells, Leeds, 29/5/2004

Against Me - Joseph's Wells, Leeds, 29/5/2004

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