36 Crazyfists, Manchester Academy 3, 12/02/15
I didn't know quite how I was going to write this review, because despite having been listening to 36 Crazyfists for over 10 years, I'd never seen them live and I know very little about them as people.
Let's start with the easy part. 36CF has been a stalwart of the metal genre since they exploded onto the scene with 'Bitterness The Star' which showcased the almost anthem-like Slit Wrist Theory, and have been winning audiences and critics over worldwide ever since with every single release. Now, with new record 'Time And Trauma' out on Feb 17, it's time to see exactly what Brock Landow and his band mates have been hiding up their sleeves since their last record dropped in 2011.
The fans go crazy the second the band steps to the stage, Landow waving and producing a microphone to begin the opening track, Vanish, which leads perfectly into crowd favourite At The End of August. What’s so great about 36 Crazyfists’ stage presence is that they seem to be having as much fun as the audience, playing a wide range of old favourites (Bloodwork) and new songs from the latest record (Sorrow Sings). It’s great to hear Brock’s voice sound just as cracked and beautiful as it ever did, balancing bloodcurdling screams with the softest silky clean vocals.
Of course, there’s the usual bout of crowdsurfing which is swiftly dealt with by the security team, and when a medic is called (sometime during The Heart And The Shape) it’s good to see Landow acknowledge the work of the team in keeping everyone safe. From my interview with him, it’s clear that he’s so humbled by audiences’ reactions to his work and so grateful to be doing something he loves, and this is reflected beautifully in his interactions with the audience during songs, whether it’s high-five-ing fans or just getting right in the middle of the sweaty, overheated mess of the mosh pit while he screams a lyric and the crowd screams it back in one voice.
For the encore, three classics emerge: Destroy The Map from bestselling album 'A Snow-capped Romance', for which Landow invites a fan up onstage to sing with him - much to the audience’s delight when the guy matches Brock note for note, scream for scream. Then, finally, two early tracks, Circle The Drain and Slit Wrist Theory, which leaves the audience in a dervish of flailing limbs and sore throats as they scream the lyrics, the band even stopping the music altogether during the climax just to hear us sing.
If this gig sets the bar for everything else I’m seeing this year, then everything else has got a tough act to follow. A brilliant, fun and nostalgia-driven party.
At The End of August
I’ll Go Until My Heart Stops
The Heart And The Shape
Also Am I
We Gave It Hell
Skin And Atmosphere
Swing The Noose
Time And Trauma
Destroy The Map
Circle The Drain
Slit Wrist Theory