NOFX at O2 Academy, Newcastle on 30th June 2015

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A last minute unexpected email confirmed access to one of the best and biggest punk shows in Newcastle of 2015. Fantastic! Then I remembered I’m ill, very ill. This left me with a dilemma; do I ‘man up’ as they say or decline the amazing access? I chose the former. The evening was quite bizarre looking back on it, here I’ll try to make sense of the night, my memory is a little fuzzy. Glad to say I didn’t vomit in the photo-pit (I came close!). Anyway I’m sure you don’t want to hear about that!

Local Geordie Oi! punk legends Crashed Out had landed an slot opening tonight, they were on super early and I’m sad to have missed it.

It was brutally hot in the Academy when I arrived. It was awesome to see the venue is a near a sellout. Newcastle’s punks are out in force and were battling the humidity which is playing hell with mohawks around the venue. There’s quite a mixed bag of people and ages in the crowd tonight.

I arrived just as Californian pop punk veterans Lagwagon were finishing their set, I managed to catch their last few songs. Nice west-coast melodic punk, in a similar vein to The Bronx, which I found highly enjoyable or as they put it ‘Joyful and triumphant!’

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Up next were Alkaline Trio. Now here’s a ‘punk’ (melodic punk is more accurate) band I’ll admit I’ve never really got. I have listened to a few of their albums in the past but I’ve never really engaged with their music, despite many recommendations from friends with similar tastes. Too super-slick and poppy for my crude palette.

They opened the set with ‘Time to Waste’. In a live setting the songs (I’m happy to inform) have much more impact. ‘In Vein’ has a brilliant stop start guitar hook, impossible not to bob along to it. They burst into ‘Armageddon’ which got a great reaction from the crowd. Fans with hands in the air, signing along word for word.

They became more energetic and animated towards end of the set, after a somewhat slow start and that’s when they began to shine. There was a sea of mobile phones in the air during the last song, much to the annoyance of people trying to watch the band with their own eyes, rather than via a phone screen.

Lovely pop punk songs. Found myself enjoying them for the most part.

NOFX are up next and are the main reason why I’m here. After 30+ years of touring and the can still pull a huge crowd, many of whom are here for a good old retro binge, reliving the music of their youth. The band didn’t even make it on the stage before a a pint of beer landed on the stage, earning the offender a middle finger from ‘Fat Mike’.

They seemed very casual and relaxed on stage, spending time wisecracking with the audience. They pointed out that a parent had brought their young son along; “Great parenting there” they quipped. After a few minutes of banter we were finally treated to some music. There was like an injection of electricity in the air as the first riff of ‘Dinosaurs Will Die’ rang out, so much energy. Here we go!

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The setlist was really long with over 30 songs, which they blasted through in under and hour and a half!. We got a fair mix of old and new from their expansive back catalogue and quite a few from their breakthrough album ‘Punk in Drublic’, but the banter in-between songs helped pace things a bit for us ageing punks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many crowd surfers in the Academy!

The punk ska/reggae based songs are brought out proving that they’re not just a one trick pony. They have quite a musical dexterity and make the ska/punk combo work magnificently.

Fat Mike joked “Best Tuesday night Newcastle has ever had… this month”; I think he’s right, maybe even the best Tuesday of the year! I walked away from the evening feeling re-energised and full of life. Now that my friends is the magic of music.

Reviewer and Photographer: Graeme Baty

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