I never thought I’d see Refused. For myself and countless others, ‘The Shape of Punk to Come’ is a seminal album for varying reasons. In honesty I only came to Refused a little over 4 or 5 years ago. I was too young to catch them first time round and then in my early musical phases to ‘metal’ to consider punk or hardcore. Or any other kind of music. Thankfully I grew the fuck up and opened my mind and as the years have gone by it turns out my real loves in heavy music do lie in the variations of punk and hardcore and, bar the classics, not metal. The melting pot of disparate musical influences in Refused sound is what attracts the eclectic fan such as myself. That and the very fact that being so eclectic and straying from the punk rock rule book is the single most punk rock thing you can do.
Apart from split up for over a decade and then come back and tour to world-wide acclaim with no new record deal, label support or record. That is punk rock as fuck!
If any of you were there then you know my words aren’t really going to do the band justice. The atmosphere was phenomenal and while the crowd was more reserved than I’m used to, being a Scottish barbarian in the sophisticated capital, I appreciated the lack of over zealous mosh pits and fights that are the state of affairs back home. It left more room for riotous sing along and near stunned awe and anticipation of each track.
That in their early 40s the band have lost none of their fire and provide one of the most physical and visceral performances this side of The Dillinger Escape Plan is inspiring. It was impossible to count the number of trashed mic stands, thrown guitars, up turned monitors and swinging microphones that were in the forum that night. Not that anyone was counting anyway as they were rightly too busy getting in amongst the wonderful chaos.
A highlights is perhaps too obvious but on personal level the band peaked for me on a sensational rendition of ‘Liberation Transmission’ and ‘The Shape of Punk to Come’. The obligatory ‘New Noise’ and ‘Refused are F***ing Dead’ gaining obvious honourable mentions.
As the band disappeared behind a sea of billowing smoke and screaming feedback it became clear that there’s not really another band like Refused. We’re lucky enough to have a few who have taken their influence and artistic ethic and turned into their own thing, but none of them are Refused. And regardless as to how wonderful any of those artists are in their own right, they’re never going to be Refused.
And that is exactly why I’m so happy to say I’ve had to chance to see Refused. Twice. Within 6 months when earlier this year I would never have dreamed of seeing them once.
I believe Charlie Sheen calls that ‘winning’.