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Review: The Menzingers - 12/02/20 - Riverside, Newcastle

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Review: The Menzingers, Spanish Love Songs & Mannequin Pussy – 12/02/20 – Riverside, Newcastle

24/02/2020

An all American trio of bands united by the a distinctly anti-establishment spirit, Mannequin Pussy, Spanish Love Songs and headliners The Menzingers tore the roof off of Riverside, Newcastle. Paul Broadhead was there to witness all of the action…

Philadelphia’s Mannequin Pussy arrive in Newcastle with a fierce reputation and it’s a healthy sized crowd that have arrived in time for their Riverside set supporting label and state mates, The Menzingers. Opening with the slow burner ‘In Love Again,’ they notch it up a little with 2019’s ‘Patience,’ the title track to their third long-player. 

The loud-quiet-loud of ‘Romantic’ paves the way for arguably their best track, the excessive ‘Drunk II.’ It’s a cracking set so far but the shit is about to well and truly hit the fan as some loudmouths down the front have finally pushed singer/guitarist Marisa Dabice too far. She tears off her top and spits and snarls into the microphone and the frantic finale including new tracks such as ‘Cream,’ ‘Clams’ and ‘F.U.C.A.W.’ is simply exhilarating. Bands shouldn’t have to put up with the ignorance shown by the minority of concert goers, but it’s great when they come out all guns blazing like Mannequin Pussy do tonight. More power to them.

To clear things up right away, Spanish Love Songs are not Spanish, and they don’t sing love songs. In fact, they hail from Los Angeles and have been touring and releasing records since 2015, their newest album Brave Faces Everyone released just a week before tonight’s show. The titles may be downers, ‘Losers’ and ‘Routine Pain,’ but guitarist and vocalist Dylan Slocum and his band mates perform up-tempo high adrenaline blasts of indie rock in the style of Bruce Springsteen and, well, The Menzingers themselves. So, their place on the bill is as apt as it is welcome. 

Forming back in 2006, The Menzingers have been slowly but surely building their following. But it wasn’t until 2017 that the indie band really made the cross-over to national consciousness with their fifth record, After The Party. Last year’s follow-up Hello Exile ensured that the post-party era of the band would be anything but a hangover and they play the bulk of that record tonight in a blistering set. 

Opening with ‘Anna,’ a long-distance love song, they rarely let up. Often described as a punk band and being signed to the legendary Epitaph label, their sound has become more dynamic over their years and they are far removed from the confines of three-chord rants. 

They are more reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen fronting The Replacements, an American heartland sound brewed in the bars and played out in garages across Pennsylvania. This is most apparent on the epic nostalgia of ‘High School Friends’ and ‘Strangers Forever,’ two tracks from Hello Exile which, if there’s any justice, should see their fanbase multiply. 

High adrenaline rockers like ‘House On Fire’ from After The Party and even a couple of tracks – ‘Good Things’ and ‘Burn After Writing’ – from their Epitaph debut, 2012’s On The Impossible Past, find their way into the set. Yet it’s the likes of ‘America (You’re Freaking Me Out)’ that resonate the most. Afterall, the dismay and disillusionment at what’s going on in our respective countries is felt just as keenly across the Atlantic. 

Much like fellow emo-rockers Jimmy Eat World, there’s no thrills with The Menzingers. They dress plainly and they let their music do the talking. They also see the irony of playing (“I don’t want your…”) ‘London Drugs’ back to back with The Clash’s classic ‘Death Or Glory’. The crowd-surfers continue to be tossed around in the air right the way through to the apt set-closer, ‘After The Party.’  

WORDS: Paul Broadhead

PHOTOS: SAM WALL

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