NOFX
The Ritz, Manchester
Tuesday 12th June 2012

Words: Rat Akadave

NOFX arrive on stage with all the casualness of Pulp Fiction assassins. Prepared for a tough job, which has now become second nature, they land the first blow with two tracks off their 2009 Coaster album, demonstrating the musical agility and lyrical ingenuity which has kept them at the forefront of a global punk scene since 1992. This first musical assault is quickly countered by a spirited onslaught of boisterous surfing and moshing from a devoted punk rock crowd at this sold out Manchester Ritz show. The audience continues to demonstrate their intimacy with NOFX’s songs by ”˜angelically’ humming the ”˜doo doo’ female accompaniment at the end of the punk anthem ”˜Mattersville’ (The War on Errorism, 2003).

Then begins the, often frustrating, insouciant, stage banter: bassist Fat Mike has bent the straw in his cocktail glass, a plastic pint pot gaffer – taped to his microphone stand containing, what appears to be, a pint of bitter. This slows up the initial musical offensive, but, as anyone who has ever seen a NOFX show will tell you, these long bouts of idle chat are standard; you get used to it.

A thundering version of ”˜Seeing Double at the Triple Rock’ (Wolves in Wolves Clothing, 2006) leaves Mike torturing himself over the fact that he failed to rhyme the lyric ”˜When in Minnesota and you got a drinking quota’ with something more Manchester related. Horn player and lead guitarist El Hefe’ quickly helps out with his wonderfully understated sense of humour, suggesting the lyric ”˜When you’re in Manchester and you look like Uncle Fester.’ There is, undoubtedly, one or two Uncle Fester lookalikes in the audience, in fact, the audience is a wondrous mix of old and young hell-bent on expending some energy on the Ritz’s sprung dance floor in pure appreciation of the veteran Los Angeles/San Franciscan punks. It’s also good to see a large number of women dancing and enjoying the thrill of crowd surfing too.

And so the show continued in typical NOFX stop/start fashion taking in old and new songs (and some I’m not sure they knew themselves). After a brief interlude they returned to reunite the unflagging crowd with ”˜The Separation of Church and State.’ (War on Errorism 2003) before guitarist Eric Melvin indulged us in the most harrowing and relentless accordion solo I’ve ever heard. He clearly seemed to be in his element with this until the offending instrument was finally, and thankfully, wrestled off him by a member of NOFX crew, bringing the show to a close. Traumatised yet satiated by the punk master-class demonstrated by all this evenings bands, I picked my way across a dance-floor strewn with single, lost shoes.

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