Live Review

Titus Andronicus, Brudenell Social Club

The kind of band you got into music for in the first place.

It’s simple: If you’re not already in love with Titus Andronicus, then you haven’t been to see them live. The name may ring a bell as, like me, you may have been forced to study this grisly Shakespeare play at school. But as for the guys who decided it sounded cool for a band name (which it does), their anonymity is dwindling as the praise piles up. But really, if you manage to catch them on form like I did tonight, you can’t do anything but take your hat off to them. They have earned their credit.

Titus Andronicus came together in small town New Jersey. They’re not from anywhere particularly fashionable and they don’t lather their songs in artifice, but make rousing, rootsy punk and have a party whilst they’re at it. There are some long standing traditions at play in their sound, but Titus make no apologies for having influences. Instead they display them proudly like sticking flags in the ground – tipping their hats to The Boss when they all sing: ‘I wasn’t looking to change the world, but I’m looking for a new New Jersey / but tramps like us, baby we were born to die.’ Exactly - everyone should like Bruce Springsteen.

Yet to paint them as simple pastiche isn’t fair. In fact, the way they pool the fury of 80s hardcore with the swaying good time vibe of The Pogues is wickedly original. Traditional elements like the violin add depth to their sound, and accusations of sloppy musicianship don’t ring true. Guitarist / Violinist Amy Kline does a great job to keep up with the lightning quick swapping of instruments, whilst Patrick Stickles wails on his guitar.

By the end of their 50 minute set, the contagious enthusiasm has polarized the room, and there’s a little throbbing mass of people around the stage. As they finish on ‘Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ,’ I’m left wondering how the people at the back are capable of sitting still. They’re the kind of band you got into music for in the first place. The simplicity of being able to show up at a gig, play and have a good time. And, despite how many years might roll by - how much you convince yourself that you are a more complex creature now; that you’ve moved on from verses and choruses and sing-a-longs - despite this, you find yourself loving the rousing, rabble in front of you. You become seventeen again, like the grinning boys packing out the front, and it feels joyous. They bounce around manically, punching the air and they know exactly how it feels when Patrick Stickles shouts ‘You will always be a loser! You will always be a loser!’ Gleeful.

Photos: Hannah-Rachel Sunderland

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