New Model Army are unique. Their music is a heady mixture of punk, metal, folk and even the dreaded i*d*e. Frontman Justin Sullivan also sings with his own English accent rather than adopting the phoney LA accent used by almost every other band on the planet.
NMA askew the normal subject matters of rock bands, choosing politics, anti-consumerism and basic human decency as opposed to the love, hate, sex, death and dungeons & dragons so beloved by most others. And unlike other left-wing bands, while the political message is strong and central, is also subtle and no need is felt for song titles of the type favoured by other political punks such as Oi Polloi's Fuck everyone who voted Tory!
NMA's following are almost as unique as their music. The Cathouse was filled with different accents, with many fans coming from across England, Northern Ireland, Germany and Scandinavia for the concert, many of whom were following the tour throughout the UK. The audience was filled with punks, skinheads, metalheads, goths, hippies and even representatives of the near-forgotten 90s greebo and crusty subcultures. There were a few old-school shaven haired lesbians too. All in all, it felt like being back in my sociology class at university 15 years ago. Being in the presence of so many fellow outcasts (or would-be outcasts?) brought to mind the NMA lyric "we are lost, we are freaks, we are crippled we are weak, we are the heirs, the true heirs to all the world."
The Army played a good mixture of songs from across their career, taking in such classics as Master Race, Purity, Before I Get Old, Let me Out and Here Comes the War as well as material from their critically acclaimed new album High. Now sporting a two guitar line-up, NMA were able to play the songs in a far heavier fashion than most of them had been originally recorded which added greatly to their live presence.
Sullivan is a thoroughly captivating front man, more a storyteller than a singer and didn't seem to blink even once during the entire set. The audience were in the palm of his hand throughout the concert and never seemed to lose interest even when some of the duller and less melodic material was aired.
With NMA, the Cathouse witnessed a mosh pit of a size more typical of a thrash or death metal gig with almost the entire club included in the action which, interestingly, was led by a large band of near-identical wee fat baldy punks.
NMA are at arguably at their best when they are at their most melodic and the highlight for me was the close of the concert which featured classic songs from their seminal Thunder and Consolation album: Stupid Questions, Vagabonds (thankfully violin free), and ending with Sullivan's prayer for understanding I Love the World.
The only possible complaint is the lack of 51st State.
:twisted :twisted :twisted :twisted / 4 out of 5