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NEWCASTLE O2 ACADEMY, 4th February 2012

Michael Downie: Photos courtesy of Emma Downie

michael downie

Why is it I always get to review bands when the weather is practically arctic? As the snow, ice and hail descended on an already frozen Newcastle, the punk legends that are Misfits rolled into town, ready to lay waste to the city with their own special brand of horror punk.


Opening up the evening's festivities were power punk oiks, JuiceheaD. Hailing from Chicago, these boys are signed to the Misfits' own label and play an infectious mix of old school and modern day punk. After some initial sound issues and problems with their sound check, they launched into a short spastic set blasting out songs from their new album 'How To Sail A Sinking Ship'.

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What was immediately noticeable was how neither the audience nor the band knew how to react to each other. Singer Rob Vannice looked a bit uncomfortable and the crowd were a but lukewarm to them at first, with the exception of a few of their own fans making plenty of racket. Regardless of this, JuiceheaD soldiered on, powering through their set with the kind of persistence that only comes from being in a punk band.

Performance wise, the band were on top form. They were tight as hell, their fast, often heavy riffs were played with precision and passion. By their third song, they had conquered some further sound issues and Vannice had the crowd won over and was starting to have fun. The initially quite static performance from Vannice and bass player Tommy Kloss loosened up and they started making use of the stage, swinging around, jumping, generally beginning to enjoy themselves. The audience warmed and began to get in to them. By the end of the set, JuiceheaD had the crowd yelling for more. Its very clear what the Misfits saw in these boys, they're a solid live band and got the night off to a great start.


After a quick changeover, the lights dropped for the main event. An impressive light show opened things off, showing off the elaborate drum riser and illuminated drum kit. Drummer Eric Arce was the first to come on stage, giving us some thundering beats as Jerry Only and Dez Cadena made their way out under a cacophany of distortion. Before they even launched into the first song, it was quite clear this was going to be fucking loud.

Blasting off with new song 'The Devil's Rain', the band sounded great. The drums sounded huge, the guitar was awash with distortion and the bass, well Only's bass, sounded like a guitar if I'm honest. He had so much distortion running through it. Within two minutes they'd finished 'The Devil's Rain' and bounded in to 'Vivid Red'.

This set the tone for the night, song after song after song, with very little time in between. In a set lasting one hour and twenty minutes, Misfits managed to power through a staggering 31 songs. Yes, you read that right, 31. The Misfits aren't known for long songs, most of them coming between two and four minutes long on their albums, but live they get even faster and even shorter.

In fact, I'm quite sure a few of the songs throughout the night were done in under a minute. The breakneck speed of the set was a little galling for me, there were a few times where I lost track of what song they were playing and I'm quite sure when I returned from a brief toilet break I had missed two entire songs.

At the beginning of the set, the audience seemed a little quiet, especially for a punk gig and it wasn't until about halfway through the set when the band kicked into the big sing a long tracks like 'Scream' and 'American Psycho' did the audience get involved, joining in with the woah-oahs and getting down and dirty in the mosh pit. It was around here that Only found his voice and started talking to the crowd.


Disappointingly enough, there was very little direct communication with the audience, he only spoke two or three times throughout the whole night. When he did address the audience he was funny, manic and yet, still engaging, before getting back to more lightning fast punk.

Either way through, they were on top form. Considering their age and the fact that they've been doing this for 35 years now, they powered through the set with the energy of 20 year olds. Only's voice held up for the majority of the set, only starting to fade in the last third, very noticably when they were playing 'Hatebreeders'.

Arce needs to be commended for managing to play the drums that fast, for that long without keeling over. While the drums were never particularly complex (compared to other bands), he maintained at least 200bpm for nearly a solid hour and a quarter and that's no mean feat. In fact it's bloody impressive. Not many touring drummers can go that long without a couple of minutes of rest to catch their breath.

Dez Cadena sounded brilliant, his guitar screaming with distortion sounded absolutely enormous. In fact, I've heard bands with two guitarists who couldn't match the size of his sound. He played with razor sharp precision with the exception of a few moments where the whole band fell out of time with each other in the later end of the set. Only had noticed this and even joked "wow, we really fucked that one up", much to the amusement of the audience.

For me, the persistent blast of songs became quite tiring. They performed them excellently and kept up a high level of energy in the room, but the constant music played at such a high volume took its toll on me and around me, there were a few audience members looking a little worse for wear.

The mix became a bit infuriating around the halfway point in the set, as I was moving around the Academy. I really noticed it during 'She', that the guitar was very trebly, the bass was very middy and the drums were just over powering the both of them. The kick drums were especially loud and clicky. It would appear that the sound was set up for an arena, not a mid level venue like the O2 Academy. This is honstly the loudest gig I've ever been to, but in a venue which doens't have the greatest acoustics the sheer volume became quite grating.

Despite all the sound problems and the rapid fire set arrangment, the Misfits put on an excellent show. They played songs from their entire back catalogue in what can only be described as the definitive way to play a best of set. The band were clearly still having fun playing live and the audience lapped up every moment of it.

After 35 years in the business, most bands would end up mellowing out or compromising their live show but not the Misfits. The same passion, fire and energy that accompanied them in the late 70s is present today. They may not be 17 any more, but they can still hold their own against the young boys.


Set list:

1. The Devil's Rain
2. Vivid Red
3. Land Of The Dead
4. The Black Hole
5. Twilight Of The Dead
6. Curse Of The Mummy's Hand
7. Cold In Hell
8. Unexplained
9. Dark Shadows
10. Father
11. Jack The Ripper
12. Static Age
13. Bullet
14. Children In Heat
15. Nike A Go Go
16. She
17. Abominable Dr. Phibes
18. American Psycho
19. Shining
20. Dig Up Her Bones
21. Scream!
22. Ghost Of Frankenstein
23. Death Ray
24. Monkey's Paw
25. Halloween
26. Skulls
27. Where Eagles Dare
28. Hatebreeders
29. Descending Angels
30. Die, Die My Darling
31. We Are 318



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