Pennsylvania punks return to Manchester in support of last year’s After the Party. Louder Than War’s Dave Beech was there.
Arguably one of this generation of punk’s consistently impressive bands, Pennsylvania’s The Menzingers have been turning heads since their inception back in 2006. Now five albums in to a 12 year career, the four-piece may have mellowed somewhat over time, but they still they possess plenty of bark and bite to keep even the most ardent a punk appeased. Don’t believe me? You obviously haven’t seen the band live.
Entering Manchester’s O2 Ritz this evening, the first thing that’s noticeable is just how varied a crowd The Menzingers seem to draw. From the leather, bristles, studs and acne crowd in torn jeans and DMs, to those whose appearance wouldn’t seem odd a pop concert. It’s a testament to the band’s wide-reaching appeal, that when they take to the stage with ‘Tellin’ Lies’, the opening number from last years After the Party, the entire venue unites in a single roar.
With a setlist that takes in tracks from across the band’s career, there’s a little something for everyone, though much of the proceedings are unsurprisingly hinged on After the Party. And while such an emphasis on new material can often leave an audience cold, tonight newer offerings are met with the same response as those that are more established; the likes of ‘Bad Catholics’ and ‘House on Fire’ slotting in to the set seamlessly besides classics such ‘The Obituaries’.
It should come as little surprise however. After the Party is arguably The Menzingers most accomplished record to date; awash with the same late-twenties/early-thirties anxiety that’s familiar to much of their audience. As such, the band resonate far more than your average punk band these days, both live and on record. It’s evident in the faces of those singing back every word, and in the reckless abandon of those dancing and crowd-surfing like their lives depended on it.
Though The Menzingers, and indeed punk as a whole, has changed over the years, both still provide a sense of catharsis for a frustrated youth, or those who were once frustrated youth, at least. And as the closing notes of tonight’s set ring out, it’s obvious that with After the Party and its supporting tour, have cemented The Menzingers as one of the most important bands of this generation, as well as one of the most entertaining.