Retrospective (II): Touché Amoré

This is another gig review from December last year which was never published. Each of the bands I go to see live are incredibly important to me, and none more so than Touché Amoré, whose 2013 record ‘Is Survived By’ tops my Album of the Year list for last year. This time there’s no set list I’m afraid, but please enjoy. Touché Amoré and Self Defense Family and Dad Punchers, Roadhouse, Manchester December 2013 It’s been a busy year for Jeremy Bolm. Hot off the back of being 2012’s main support slot for Converge’s ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ tour, the Touché Amoré frontman has launched his own record label Secret Voice, showcasing up-and-coming post-punk acts such as Single Mothers and Drug Church, as well as touring America as frontman for his other band Hesitation Wounds, and topping this off with recording arguably the most emotionally intense hardcore record of 2013 in Touché Amoré’s ‘Is Survived By’. Touché’s choice of support acts is vastly different from their own style, with opening act Dad Punchers (fronted by Touché Amoré drummer Elliot Babin, and – for this leg of the tour – featuring two of Touché’s other members in what Babin has described on Twitter as a ‘double-barrelled’ tour) bringing their own brand of often funny, occasionally thought-provoking lyrics dressed up in the kind of ear-friendly punk rock which is strangely reminiscent of early Barenaked Ladies. Main support act Self Defense Family (formerly End of a Year) brings the tone down to earth with their introspective, confessional lyrical style, songs interspersed with frontman Patrick Kindlon’s own wry, funny monologues on topics including Manchester’s musical heritage and UK Subs’ recent affiliation with neo-Nazi groups. It’s also the final night of Touché’s two-month long European tour, so you can understand why Bolm may look a little tired as he approaches the stage in Manchester’s Roadhouse. But it doesn’t stop him screaming his way through opening track Pathfinder, from 2011’s ‘Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me’, before instantly diving into the latest record’s lead single Just Exist, to the delight of the assembled crowd. Track after track follows with barely a breath between them, the crowd and the band getting more and more sweaty as the energy Bolm puts out spreads through the venue. Maybe it’s final-night release or something else, but Touché Amoré have never sounded this tight, this vital. DNA, a track about Bolm’s relationship with his father, comes before And Now It’s Happening In Mine, a track about his musical influences. There is pushing and shoving, and the final track of the main set begins; the title track from the new album, and one of the most emotionally challenging songs in their repertoire. The encore only consists of two songs, but it’s clear that Touché have reached the end of their rope. The crowd is tired, the band is tired; all that remains is to deliver these final tracks. Non-Fiction begins, a slow track about the inevitability of death which starts quietly and builds to a crashing, deafening crescendo as Bolm screams the final lyric: ‘With time, we’ll all be gone / But how you lived can live on’. Closing track Honest Sleep is a crowd favourite, and the incessant stage-diving begins, fans scrambling over each other to be a part of what has become a staple of Touché Amoré shows during this particular track. Bolm loses the microphone in the surge of crowd-surfing punk kids during the final moment of the song, in which there is no instrumentation, merely Bolm’s voice. Jeremy stands on the stage, the microphone somewhere on the floor amid the crowd of people and the look of intense, tired gratitude on his face as the lyrics are shouted back at him from the floor seems to sum up this tour: he is exhausted, and all of the band’s work has finally paid off. And that’s it. Bolm and the rest of the band have closed out the biggest tour of their career with a bang. It’s the first time they’ve been a headline act in this country, and they’ve shown that, far from living in the shadow of label-mates and hardcore legends Converge, since last year they’ve grown up and moved on, taking the genre in a fresh direction. It’s nice to know hardcore is alive and well and it is to be hoped that much more will be seen from Jeremy Bolm and his bandmates – and after the reception they received from the crowd, it’s hard to imagine them not being welcomed back with open arms.

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