Manchester Deaf Institute
November 14th 2012
Fucked Up have the best and most perfect name in the history of rock n roll.
Surely the whole point of rock n roll is to get fucked up – that is fucked up mentally, chemically or spiritually. The noise is there to create an altered reality. A trip into the beyond. They have maintained an ambitious approach to hardcore with a brilliantly eccentric series of releases which range from concept albums to releasing single based on the signs of the Chinese zodiac, a Christmas single with Nelly Furtado and series of albums that pack so much ambition and imagination into them that the mid really does boggle.
This is punk rock but not as we know it.
Fortunately the band can back this up with a powerful, electric, tidal wave of sound that is like a big sweaty man hug of high octane, high decibel love which just about sums up front man Damien Abraham who spends the evening prowling around the packed audience hugging anyone in his path and drawing them to his undulating bosom and crushing them in a shower of sweat and body.
Fucked Up are a total experience live. Their songs are enormous. They have to be – there are three guitars up there and they use them with a fierce intelligence, building up an entwining wall of sound that is totally hypnotic. They also have a tough rhythm section with one of those American drummers that drums like a muppet puppet with flailing arms and deals out a genuine pounding power hooking in with a bass player who looks like Thelma from Scooby Doo.Â She looks cool as fuck as she hammers down the bass lines that underpin the band. Itâs a fat mattress of sound for Damien to bounce off and bounce off is what he does.
He enters the stage after a couple of minutes of the band building up this pile driving sound and is dressed for approximately thirty seconds before ripping off his t shirt and trucker hat to morph into an unlikley super hero. A superhero in grubby grey shorts with his arse hanging out athat works every corner of the venue.
The Toronto based band came from hardcore and maintain that love of noise that underscores the genre. You can hear a touch of Black Flag in there, the Black Flag that went on those long guitar trips when they underscored the discipline of hardcore with a lysergic madness. Fucked Up have criss crossed this with filthy guitar drones and these great building power chord intros. There is a hint of a warped stadium rock in the sound as well in the way they build the songs before they hammer it back into the underground with Damienâs strangled, intense, scorched earth vocals that combine with the bandâs land speed record assault. Few bands can maintain this wall of sound and make it interesting and itâs not as simple as people assume. The set spirals and builds and the band are on a real trip.
They play parts of their triumphant ‘David Comes To Life’ concept album and some of those tunes that introduced us to them a few years ago when they breezed into town and played the same mesmerising show to about 20 people.
Could they ever be bigger? Does that kind of thing matter to a successful underground band? They are getting great gigs – next week they play with The Vaccines at the 7000 capacity Alexandra Palace which will be some show. Tonight they certainly have their packed faithful throng fully engaged, engaged maybe because Damian is bearing down on them in the moshpit and climbing past the mixing desk and up the stairs at the back of the room before leaning on the back wall screaming his heart out whilst oozing a Buddha- metal guru- love vibe. Itâs a quite disconcerting combination and oddly and powerfully effective, he really does love the audience instead of the normal fake rock n roll platitudes and he makes sure everyone knows this.
Fucked Up are out there on their own. There is no rock band like them. Stubbornly and beautifully eccentric, they just get better and better and their avalanche of sound tonight was so perfectly realised that it was mind blowing.