Refused / Thrice at O2 Academy Bristol: Far more than flashing lights and sound
PUBLISHED: 18:37 31 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:21 01 November 2019
Post-hardcore heavyweights Refused and Thrice tore up a packed O2 Academy Bristol on Tuesday night.
The dual headliner in support of Refused's latest album War Music and Thrice's tenth LP Palms was a night of politically-charged rock.
Floridian punks, Gouge Away kicked off the festivities with a solid set from their two LPs, The highlight though, came towards the end of the five-piece from Fort Lauderdale's brief set with an inspired, and apt, cover of The Pixie's Wave of Mutilation, which really got the crowd moving.
Then it was time for Refused who came to 'talk about politics, wear tight pants and dance the night away'.
They succeeded, and then some, with lead singer Dennis Lyxzén, rarely standing still throughout their entire set. Bursting on to the stage in a black beret for REV001, which was tossed away by the first bars of Violent Reaction.
Lyxzén, clearly a student of the Mick Jagger school of frontmen, was captivating to watch as he high kicked, fist pumped and danced his way through every track.
During the bridge to Rather Be Dead he launched himself into the crowd during the exasperated final screams of 'I'd rather be alive'.
In the brief moments Lyxzén wasn't throwing shapes or tossing the mic stand, he spoke about the disaster of late stage-capitalism, the protests in Hong Kong, and the plight of Syrian refugees, before dedicating Malfire to 'the immigrants who just want a home'.
Resfused brought their set to a close with New Noise, their most popular track which saw the pit erupt into a frenzy.
Finally Thrice took to the stage and shifted the tone of the evening in seconds, as the synthwave tinged opening of Only Us filled the venue, before Dustin Kensrue's vocals blew everyone away.
Compared to the theatrics of Refused, Thrice were almost sedate by comparison, with Kensrue spending most of the set sticking by the mic and barely speaking to the audience.
But with a back catalogue as strong as theirs, Thrice have more than enough room to let the music do the talking.
Their set list, chosen by fans before the start of the tour, took the crowd on a journey through the band's decades long career, and the evolution of their genre-defying sound.
As someone who still has fond memories of seeing them dual headline with Coheed and Cambria back in 2006, seeing how Thrice has grown up with its fans is probably one of the band's greatest achievements.
This was demonstrated, and then some with the shift from the heavy, contemplative, Hurricane from 2016's To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, a song wrought with the pain of dying relationships and the inevitability of loss, to Artist In The Ambulance, from their 2003 mayor label debut of the same name, a break-neck blitz of teenage angst full of the frustrations of youth, and wanting to be something greater.
The stand out track for me though was Black Honey, which is possibly the best song the band has ever written. And for a band known for delivering one stunning album after the next its quite a feat.
Most bands opt to go out with a bang, but Thrice instead opted to go out with a literal whisper, finishing their superb set with the dreamlike balladry of Into The Pines, a move I feel proved Thrice as a band are capable of far more than flashing lights and sound.