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Rolo Tomassi - The Cluny, Newcastle, 13/5/2013

  by Adrian Huggins

published: 25 / 5 / 2013

Rolo Tomassi - The Cluny, Newcastle, 13/5/2013


Rolo Tomassi finds hope for the punk and hardcore movement in the shape of young Sheffield-based five-piece Rolo Tomassi at a gig at The Cluny in Newcastle

Two nights prior to this gig at the Cluny in Newcastle, I was having a semi-drunken and passionate conversation in a beer garden in Sheffield with a punk a few years my senior (Not much, but enough to know slightly more than I). We concluded that there is little if any hope for young people coming up within the realms of the alternative/punk/hardcore scene these days. “I went to a gig the other week and these lads just looked me up and down as if to say, ‘What are you wearing?’” said the punk. “It’s shit. It never used to be like that. It’s all gone trendy. They’re missing out.” I tend to agree. Even the so called ‘alternatives’ seem to be wrapped up worlds of Academy tours, or “shows” in which over-Americanisations creep in and clothing lines seem as important as albums. Maybe, I’m just getting old. We also concluded that there are still some good bands out there. That feeling of ‘things used to be better when I were a lad’ is indicative of getting older in the same way as ‘think I’m going to have a quiet one this weekend’ is or the receiving of ‘useful’ presents which you actual enjoy. Luckily for me, however, I was able to witness three fantastic, younger bands two nights later that blew my ageing face off, and I couldn’t be happier to be able to spread the word. Having witnessed and previously written about in these pages Rolo Tomassi several times before, I was incredibly excited to see them, especially as I had become obsessed with them all over again after hearing their latest album, last year’s ‘Astraea’. Equally exciting was the prospect of seeing Newcastle’s best bands Human Sacrifice Club support them. Human Sacrifice Club has gone through a few incarnations now, and consists of four young chaps that are a joy to watch. They would appear to be picking up the slack for any bands out there not giving it 100% and having a bloody good time while doing so. Too often I see bands that are either ‘too cool’ to have fun, or are alternatively like “Thanks guys, you’ve been amazing” – leaving you thinking, ‘Whatever, mate! You’re not Bon Jovi. This is a pub. Don’t be so cheesy’. Human Sacrifice Club smash this right up and are completely refreshing. With a blend of early Biffy Clyro, Papier Tigre and the dancier side of indie rock, all strewn together in their own North East way, Human Sacrifice Club are surely destined for great things, and hopefully will have won new fans over with tonight’s performance. With ridiculous time signatures and mind bending structures, they somehow managed to bounce around in a completely off-kilter manner. It’s a wonder they didn’t fall over, but they never missed a beat or note. Cranking out material from their debut EP including ‘Jebi Konja’, ‘Maps and Objectives’ and the sublime ‘It’s Hard to Speak’, they were a damn fun band to watch. Rolo Tomassi’s tour buddies Bastions followed the local lads. Having witnessed them twice at Hevy festival a couple of years ago I was vaguely familiar with Bastions, and was not disappointed to see that the two main points up I picked up about them still ring true – they are hardworking and damned passionate. Full throttle on from the off, there was a desperation in their vocals reminiscent of Converge and Bane. They are not a band that come and play a gentle set. That’s for sure. A very solid and dependable name on the British underground, these guys have earned their reputation, and judging by tonight’s performance they will continue to go from strength to strength. Harking back to my no defunct and increasingly ‘proven wrong’ conversation, Sheffield’s Rolo Tomassi make many of their peers look worthless and completely uninventive, and I am pleased to report that they continued to do this live as well as on record. The opening song ‘Howl’, which opens the most recent album, is a perfect building song to start anything off, and it was goosebump-inducing to see it live, with atmospheric synths building up to the mathcore sound that defines them. It is the best song to sum this band up really. You can never predict where this band are going within a song upon first hearing it. Performing mainly material from ‘Astraea’, which is not only their latest but also most accomplished album, Rolo Tomassi seem to have developed a more mellow and atmospheric sound but on their flipside some of the guitar playing rivals Dillinger Escape Plan for ferocity, ‘Remancer’ was the first taster of this with dual vocals from siblings James and Eva Spence whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Although the set was heavy on work from ‘Astraea’, they did drop in a few ‘oldies’, most notably ‘Party Wounds’ from 2010’s ‘Cosmology and ‘Oh, Hello Ghost’ from their 2008 debut album ‘Hysterics’, both of which were received and embraced with as much love as they were delivered. Every song was delivered passionately with drummer Edward Dutton playing some of the most intricate and complex rhythms out there. ‘Empiresk’ for me, is the best example of the band mixing their gentler side with an out-and-out heaviness eventually kicking in, and this was again flawless. Full of energy throughout the performance, it’s not hard to see or hear why Rolo Tomassi are held with such regard by fans and peers alike. They closed with the gorgeous ‘Illuminare’, which again gave Eva Spence the space to stretch the softer side of her vocal delivery which was something quite special, but of course not without a lot of noise and screaming first. I left this gig feeling incredibly elated having witnessed three top-notch performances. I highly recommend catching all of these bands at some point. My faith in the youth is back intact. It just goes to show that the kids are alright.

Picture Gallery:-
Rolo Tomassi - The Cluny, Newcastle, 13/5/2013

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Interview (2010)
Rolo Tomassi - Interview
Paul Waller speaks to keyboardist and effects man James Spence from Sheffield hardcore band about his group's soon-to-be-released second album, 'Cosmology', and the strong childhood friendships that cement his band
Interview (2010)
Interview (2009)

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Hysterics (2008)
Mature and intelligent hardcore on dynamic debut album from boundary-stretching Sheffield group, Rolo Tomassi

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