Gig Review :: Against Me! (w/ Crazy Arm) – The Cockpit, Leeds – 18/11/11

Tom Gabel of Against Me! - © 2011 Emma Stone Photography

“In short, it was a punk rock show…”

It’s been a while since I’d been to The Cockpit for a gig. The last time was for The Lawrence Arms and the sound sucked. It probably didn’t help that the sound guy kept walking away from the desk, and that the desk itself rolled away every so often. Let’s just say I wasn’t hoping for the best gig-going experience I’d ever have, but maybe it wouldn’t be so bad as to ruin seeing two of my favourite bands on one night.

After the disappointment of Against Me! pulling out of their 2010 UK tour, it was great to see that messieurs Gabel and co were down to make things up. Not only did they bring the Crazy Arm boys out on tour with them but, in a rare moment of on-stage banter, Tom Gabel took time out to apologise to fans who were excited to see them last year. They didn’t half make it up to us either but, before all of that, it was time for Crazy Arm to set the bar for Florida’s finest.

Following a great performance from Middle Finger Salute, Crazy Arm took to the stage with one intention; to tear the roof off The Cockpit. Opening up with ‘Blind Summit’, the band was met by a rapturous response from the crowd, something that continued throughout their short stint on stage. Setlist mainstays like ‘Still To Keep’ and ‘Broken By The Wheel’ were as well received as ever, an army of fans singing every word. Powerful political anthem, ‘Song Of Choice’ proved to be my highlight of the set, the unity displayed during ‘Tribes’ coming a close second. As the band closed out their set it became apparent that there was a bunch more Crazy Arm devotees in that crowd than before they started, and rightly so!

After a short break in proceedings, Against Me! took to the stage and were relentless from beginning to end. I’ve never seen a band play as hard as they did that night. Stopping once for the aforementioned apology, they remained tight up until the end. The crowd didn’t relent either. From the start of the first track, it was utter chaos. There were limbs flying everywhere, people crowd surfing (which didn’t seem to take with the ‘cool’ section of the crowd) and people jumping from the amps. In short, it was a punk rock show and anyone disputing the punk credentials of Against Me! needs their head testing. I screamed my way through ‘Walking Is Still Honest’, and was glad to hear a good amount of older material mixed in with newer tracks like ‘Russian Spies’ and ‘High Pressure Low’.

I walked away from this gig covered in sweat – both my own and that of other people – with bruises on my legs and back, cuts on my hands and a throat that felt like someone had taken a sander to it. It was just what I expected, and it was brilliant. I live for gigs like that, and it was one of the best I’ve seen all year. And you know what? The sound was fantastic!

Against Me! are now out on tour in support of Frank Turner. How’s he going to follow them? I have no idea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.