Live Review: NOFX [O2 Academy, Leeds] July 3, 2015

Tonight is a punk rock tour de force, with Lagwagon, Alkaline Trio and NOFX teaming up for a night of offbeat humour, nostalgia and absolute classics.   If this tour […]

Tonight is a punk rock tour de force, with Lagwagon, Alkaline Trio and NOFX teaming up for a night of offbeat humour, nostalgia and absolute classics.

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If this tour was 15 years ago, it’s hard to imagine it being anywhere other than in an arena but, while punk rock may not be quite as popular as it was, the sold-out venue shows the enduring appeal of the genre.

It’s unsurprising that the venue is busy right from the start as Lagwagon put in an extremely tight performance.  Musicianship is not the first thing that comes to mind with punk rock, but the California veterans are note perfect, running through classics such as ‘May 13th‘ and ‘After You My Friend’ alongside newer cuts from their most recent release ‘Hang’ with gusto that belies their years.

Alkaline Trio are probably big enough to be headlining this room themselves and they’re certainly one of the main reasons why this tour has been so popular. They pull out a massive surprise by announcing they will play their commercial breakthrough album ‘From Here to Infirmary’ in full tonight.

The album remains one of the most influential punk albums of the last 15 years and the crowd passionately sing every word back at frontman Matt Skiba. Funnily enough, it’s not ‘Stupid Kid’ or ‘Private Eye’ that receive the best reactions tonight. Instead, non-singles such as ‘Armageddon’, ‘Bloodied Up’ and ‘Crawl’ spark euphoria.We’re then treated to a number of other hits before ‘Radio’ ends the night in a deafening, triumphant singalong.

After Alkaline Trio’s mesmeric performance, NOFX had the odds against them but, by coming on stage in a nun outfit and telling jokes, they manage to keep energy levels up as they rip into ‘Dinosaurs Will Die’. As anyone who has seen Fat Mike and co before will know, a NOFX show is not solely about live music. It’s almost 90 minutes of comedy with some punk thrown in, but their onstage chatter is never short of entertaining.

While many bands spend a lot of time telling the audience to start circle pits, “blow the roof off” and other clichés, NOFX’s awkward humour is a breath of fresh air. Whether they’re making fun out of crowdsurfers, each other or other bands, it’s amusing and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Just when you think Fat Mike needs to get on with some music, they break into hits like ‘Dig’ and ‘Leave It Alone’ without breaking stride.

With so much onstage humour, it’s somewhat surprising that NOFX get through 26 songs tonight and they certainly mix things up with some rarities (‘A Radio Cover’, ‘What’s The Matter With Parents Today?’) alongside established classics (‘Linoleum’, ‘Bottles To The Ground’).

With a five song encore closing with the anthemic ‘Kill All The White Man’ NOFX wrap the night up in style and, while they couldn’t match Alkaline Trio’s extraordinary performance, the punk rock legends certainly put on an unforgettable show.

(Top photo credit : Alan Snodgrass)

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Adam Smith

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