Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus


This is the most fun I’ve had at a gig in a long time. Titus Andronicus, the world’s greatest punk rock bar band have brought their show supporting their 92-min, 3 LP/2 CD rock opera about mental illness (yes, really) The Most Lamentable Tragedy, to Manchester’s Deaf Institute, and it’s all sorts of incredible. The packed room is full of excited fan-boys (and a smattering of fan-girls) who will, throughout the night, shout back all the lyrics to Patrick Stickles’ ramshackle rock anthems right back at him with passion and fury I haven’t seen this side of a Brand New gig. As soon as the band climb the stairs to the stage, and after Stickles delivers a speech about everyone having a fun time and nobody getting hurt (their gigs can get quite raucous down front), they launch into ’No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future’, one of their most beloved songs with it’s air punching, chest-out refrain of ‘you will always be a loser’; it’s quite the moment as the entire crowd sing along to each and every word, not just the big chorus, and this is just the first song.

What follows is one of the best shows I’ve seen this year. There’s not much messing around, just song after song spanning their four album career (although just the one song from the lukewarmly received Local Business, which Stickles introduces endearingly as ‘that album that didn’t come out here, you can illegally download it, or get on YouTube if you guys have that over here’, then tuning his guitar saying ‘I want it to sound good for you guys…lets fucking go!’). The crowd lap the entire set up, pogo-ing down front, thrusting fists in the air, shouting along to the life-affirming chants like ‘life is over’ from the rollocking ‘Titus Andronicus’ and ‘a huge ‘FUCK YOU’ in the middle of final song ‘Fear and Loathing In Mahwah NJ’.

As much as it’s great hearing songs from their peerless second album The Monitor (and it really really is great – if you’ve never listened to it get on it right now), it’s the new songs that I enjoy the most. Before their new album was released, the band put out a 15 minute video comprising of a 7 song section which collectively they titled ‘The Magic Morning’, and they play that run in full here. It’s absolutely extraordinary, from the laid bare confessional of ’Lost My Mind’ through to the rambunctious ‘Fired Up’ and incredible ‘Dimed Out’, it’s the best run of songs I’ve sen live in a very long time. The smile on my face is as wide as it can possibly be, I’m shouting along, bouncing up and down and generally having the time of my life. Stickles is a brilliant frontman, endearing, passionate, on edge like he could go off it at any point, he’s a mesmerising presence and looks like he’s really enjoying himself after a tough time personally; it’s a joy to behold.

On this tour they’ve been playing a cover version of a local band in each city, and as they say ‘we’re honouring a Manchester legend’, people around me shout ‘The Smiths’ and ‘New Order’, but what TA do is launch into a bouncing version of Oasis’ ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, and it’s funny and kind of perfect – I’m so happy they didn’t do The Smiths. Finishing on a blinding, raucous run of ’A More Perfect Union’, ‘Fatal Flaw’ (‘do you want and album deep cut or some fucking rock and roll?’ asks Stickles…’fucking rock and roll ‘is the overwhelming response, naturally), and ‘Fear and Loathing in Mahwah NJ’, it’s the perfect end to a pretty perfect night. Titus Andronicus are the best rock and roll band, best punk band, fuck it, the best band full stop operating at the moment. Get on board guys, and you too could spend your night hollering ‘you will always be a loser’ with a few hundred other enlightened souls.

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