Bit of a contrast tonight at the Academy in Brum. In the main room, a mixture of punk, rock and hardcore, in the form of AFI, SOIA and The Dear and Departed, and in the Academy 3, Joshua Radin? I hope they have good soundproofing as I have a feeling Joshua won’t be loud enough to sing over tonight’s line up in the main room!
The Dear and Departed@ BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY12/04/2010
The Dear and Departed were up first tonight, fronted by Dan Smith AKA Dan Under AKA that bloke from LA Ink. I was quite excited to see them as I thought they would be a fresh new punk band for me to love, but having never listened to them before I was quite shocked at their set and not in a good way. Maybe it was because it was the last night of their tour here, I’m not sure, but they just seemed tired? Maybe it’s my fault for expecting them to be something different because they are fronted by a kick ass tattooist, but they were a bit like The Smiths, a bit like New Order, a bit like the singy bits of Good Charlotte and just a bit ‘meh’ really. I’m sure there will be people that will disagree with me completely, but in my opinion they didn’t fit in with the other 2 bands tonight and I wouldn’t watch them again. Their debut album hit the shops 3 years ago (according to their MySpace page), hopefully if they are going to record another record in the near future they will make it sound a bit more current! Not a terrible set but could have done better.
Sick Of It All@ BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY12/04/2010
Next up tonight were patron saints and one of the longest serving members of the New York Hardcore scene, Sick Of It All. They may have been together 24 years this year but they certainly haven’t lost it at all! They put the previous band to shame with their stage presence and showed that age and experience are something the music industry should embrace with open arms instead of shunning them for the next young thing. Lou Koller is a dynamic front man and 3 songs in I was wondering how even AFI were going to top this set. SOIA was formed by Lou and his brother and guitarist Pete back in 1986, which I’m guessing was quite a while before some of the people here tonight were born, but even so they played a brilliant mix of old and more recent albums. They even played Clobber off of one of their oldest albums Blood Sweat and No Tears. The set list from what I could make out was;

Take The Night Off
Good Looking Out
Call To Arms
Built To Last
Clobberin Time
Death or Jail
Step Down
The Divide
Waiting for the Day
Die Alone
Scratch The Surface
Us Vs Them
Sick Of It All@ BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY12/04/2010Sick Of It All@ BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY12/04/2010
I encourage everyone who thinks they’ve watched a good punk set to go see them live, you won’t regret it, they even had the two halves of the crowd singing against each other and one of the biggest circle pits I’ve ever seen. Old school but brilliant.
Finally it was AFI’s turn to take to the stage, I’ve seen AFI live one before a few years ago and they were good but I really didn’t think they would be able to top SOIA’s heart stopping set by any means. You forget how long AFI have actually been around though and I should have had a bit more faith that they wouldn’t let down the devoted crowd. The stage was set in darkness apart from 3 raised platforms that lit up, ready for Davey and the boys to take to.
Opening the set with Medicate from brand new album Crash Love, Davey was like this crazed bouncy demon. Jumping from one side of the stage to the other the crowd below went mental. To be honest the screaming from some of the girls on the front row was that loud it was hard to hear what he was actually singing! They went straight into one of their most well known songs Girls Not Grey, from 2003 album Sing The Sorrow and the band were in full swing with the crowd singing along to every word just as loudly. They followed Girls Not Grey with Leaving Song Part II from the same album which went down an absolute treat. Sick Of It All’s Lou Koller came on to do some amazing guest vocals for Kill Caustic from 2006 album Decemberunderground a couple of songs later. Its only when you hear songs from their different albums one after the other, you realise just how many genres and styles AFI have crossed into over the 18 years they have been together.
They continued through the set with a brilliant mixture of songs from almost all the albums, including live rarities such as Perfect Fit from first album Very Proud of Ya which was released in 1996 and The Days of the Phoenix from 2000 album The Art of Drowning in the encore. Both which must have been total treats for the diehard fans here tonight, some of which I was told had not only been to this gig but a couple of the other British venues on this tour. Dan Smith of the Dear and Departed came on to sing with Davey on Love Like Winter and the band closed with Silver and Cold, again from album Sing The Sorrow. It was a fabulous gig tonight and a wonderful send off for the last night of the tour. Set List was as follows;

Girls Not Grey
Leaving Song Part II
I Am Trying Very Hard To Be Here
Kill Caustic
End Transmission
Perfect Fit
Beautiful Thieves
Dancing Thru Sunday
Too Shy To Scream
Love Is a Many Splendored Thing
It Was Mine
But Home Is Nowhere
Miss Murder
Days Of The Phoenix
Love Like Winter
Silver And Cold
Words and Photography by Lucy Pryor

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