New Model Army at Rock City, Nottingham, UK – 13th December 2014

Posted by Zyllah Moranne-Brown on Saturday Dec 13, 2014 Under Alternative, Post-punk

Gig review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown with photography by Ken Harrison

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To a city filled with the legend of a man who robbed the rich to feed the poor, we’re in Nottingham’s iconic Rock City to see Cromwell’s anti-establishment army, as the ‘family’ roll into town for a special and unique take of this particular band’s 34 year career. With just two dates in the UK – welcome all ye faithful to ‘Between Blood and Wine’ – an evening with the New Model Army.

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New Model Army formed way back in 1980 in Bradford, Yorkshire, releasing first album in ‘Vengeance’ in ‘84.  Led by one ‘Slade the Leveller’ – Justin Sullivan, NMA  attract a truly loyal following and as a band, are known for being overtly political, never fearful of being confrontational – it’s part of their DNA. They’ve never chosen the easy route, sticking to their guns and principals throughout.  The journey has never been easy for the band throughout their history either. Resilient to the last – lineup changes, personal tragedies are all part of the band’s history and are now a part of who they are.

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And everyone is here for an incredibly early start to a gig – the main band are due stage on at 6.45pm according to their website and Facebook feeds (curfew is 10 – club night after – a usual with such venues these days) and will deliver a two part, over 2 ½ hour one-off set – with additional musical guests and experimentation on the old.  NMA are excited about the possibilities, as are the eager fans who turned on time and early tonight.  NMA take to the stage around 7.15pm – the venue is already rammed to the hilt, with punters from all corners of the UK and beyond, the faithful, the devotees, the fans, the new, the old, punks, rockers, goths, people in suits and fancy dresses, little people – a whole eclectic mix to see these Bradford stalwarts.

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The set is dripping with dry ice, spot lights give effect and the menace of Sullivan is already on show. ‘Guessing’ – he’s ranting at the stars. To huge applause from the fans. ‘Rumour & Rapture’ and ‘Christian Militia’ set the tone. Sullivan thanks us and tells us every year is some kind of anniversary – this in particular – ‘1984’.  And then to a drum-punching beat (there’s double drummers on stage tonight) to add to the power A trio of such beckons. Sullivan’s been to some interesting places and went to one and came back with this – ‘Red Rain’ – red set, crankingly powerful song, NMA are ramping it up. ‘Stormclouds’ from their latest, and up there with their best, album ‘ Between Dog and Wolf’ is storming quite literally, followed by their 80’s hit ‘ No Rest. “By God – What is this evil we have done?” we all chant as a question.

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To a song “about lots of things”, ‘Knievel’ , followed by a song from their other great album ‘Thunder and Consolation’ ‘- Family’ and then to the title track of the new ‘Between Dog and Wolf.’

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Part one is over – and we all stop to take breath. NMA are on form tonight and the crowd buzz with anticipation for part 2. It’s very warm inside the packed Rock City and they return, catch your breath – here we go. First up ‘Ballad’ starts quietly. Sullivan stops after the first attempt – the crowd is noisy, some tell others to shut up. Again he starts, and again he stops. “Com’on give us a break…” requests Sullivan. “We’ll ask you very rudely to shut the f** up…” [to cheers from the fans] “… or we’ll f*** off. If you didn’t want to come you shouldn’t have brought ticket.” Shhhhhhh goes the crowd and third time lucky we’re off, an expanded Army on stage, two violinists, cello-ist. The faithful are singing. Next up ‘Someone Like Jesus’ – truly haunting rendition.

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Whether ballad on full on venomous angst – NMA are in the zone and the faithful be at one. ‘Orange Tree Roads’ about choices in life – the crowd are bopping, heads bouncing, arms the air. And everyone know the words and chants to all lyrics float through the venue. ‘March in September’ we “ooooooo” – ‘Devil’s Bargain’ the stage drenched in red light – a drumbeaten chant.

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This one’s a young person’s song. For the young look up to the adults. Sullivan ponders that our own children may be doing the same to us. He hope’s this is not want they are thinking as they give us ‘A Liberal Education’ – the ‘towers’ of fans in force again – a line of five plus people standing on literally the shoulders of others – punching out to the tune.

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NMA are giving us everything from all their extensive catalogue tonight – ‘No Mirror, No Shadow’ from 2007’s ‘High.’ “As you get older you carry more baggage with you?” ponders Sullivan. Tonight we  are part of something. We are chosen. As we chant out way through ‘One of the Chosen’. ‘Family’ starts off in a more acoustic stripped back manner – and then we sing. “Give me some place that I can go, Where I don’t have to justify myself, Swimming out alone against this tide. Looking for family, looking for tribe…” Sullivan ponders that it is an unlikely song to sing along to and the crowd bizarrely spontaneously burst into Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everyone…’

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“Innocent days….” Sullivan comments, and we’re into the next epic. ‘No Pain.’ And the tracks power along; ‘Angry Planet’, ‘Purity’ and it’s antidote accompaniment ‘Poison Street’. And to complete, with the venom angst and everyone chanting “What A Wonderful Way To Go…”

Set complete – the band soak it up – mutual appreciation from band and crowd. But it’s not over.  They’re back – in full beautiful violin flow ‘Vagabonds’ – before a huge drum crank – it’s vicious, and venomous and we sing “We are old, we are young, we are in this together, Vagabonds and children, prisoners forever, With pulses a-raging and eyes full of wonder, Kicking out behind us again…”

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Before a cover, their take on The Kinks. Sullivan tells us that Ray Davies wimped out when heard it.  But hey, f*** it they thought, they’d do it anyway. A slight lull, before the totally frenetic ‘225’ from ‘Thunder and Consolation’. Rampant.

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And another encore – ‘Vengeance’ and we chant “I believe in getting the b*****ds, getting the b*****ds, getting the b*****ds….”.  Thanks to all, their crew and their kinda Christmas musical take, dedicated to the late Tommy Tee, everyone is singing. We’re in the valleys of the ‘Green and Grey’, where indeed we think most clearly.

Nottingham Rock City. As soon as we walked into the doors decision was made. In all the years, I’ve been gong to gigs, I’ve never made it here before. The dark environment, sticky floors, cavernous ceiling, mezzanine floor, atmosphere and awesome sound system. We’d like to swap Rock City with Brum’s o2 Academy please? Thanks.

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Back to NMA – I’ve seen them a few times over the years – invariably, whatever the line-up, however many fans are there they give EVERYTHING. They are tough. Rugged. Tonight, it was great to see them play probably one their largest solo gigs in the UK for years, to 2,500 punters. NMA and the family in full glorious, in your face, glory.  Tracks were not outdated, this was no retro tour, this is current, this is now, an antidote to the depression – more in time now than bizarrely anytime  in their entire career. With the incredibly talented group of musicians and these special guests tonight, this was indeed far more than special. Tonight, we’re grinning – awesome gig – we all know this is what this particular band deserve and then some.

Look for family? Looking for tribe? Then join the Model Army.  It’s a Wonderful Way to Go….

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Setlist I:
Guessing
Rumour & Rapture
Christian Militia
1984
Red Earth
Stormclouds
No Rest
Knievel
Waiting
Family
Between Dog and Wolf

Setlist II:
Ballad
Someone Like Jesus
Into the Wind
Orange Tree Roads
March in September
Devil’s Bargain
A Liberal Education,
No Mirror, No Shadow
One of the Chosen
Family Life
No Pain
Angry Planet
Purity
Poison Street
Wonderful Way to Go

Encore I:
Vagabonds
[The Kinks Cover]
225

Encore II:
Vengeance
Green and Grey

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Listening:
Thunder and Consolation [1989]
Between Dog and Wolf [2013]

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2 Responses to “New Model Army at Rock City, Nottingham, UK – 13th December 2014”

  1. Loud Says:

    [the Kinks Cover]… a.k.a. Till the End of Day ? or did they play another? Very straight to the point review, anyway, thank you Zyllah!

  2. Gig Reviews | Gig Photography | Interviews | Competitions from Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » New Model Army + She Makes War at The Roadmender, Northampton, UK – 11th March 2015 Says:

    […] smaller, more intimate venue tonight. Last time we saw New Model Army it was at their jaw-dropping Notts Rocky City festive bash that pulled in the family from across the UK and Europe. Tonight a smaller fair – […]

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