The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing at The Globe, Cardiff

Support: IDestroy| Ill Fate
March 19, 2018 at The Globe, Cardiff
Promoter: Self-promoted

If you still believe punk died when the Sex Pistols broke up, you need to see a show from steampunk stalwarts The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing (The Men). They may sometimes be more steam than punk, but after their show at The Globe, there’s no doubting their punk credentials. Supported by up-and-coming punk rockers IDestroy, they set Cardiff’s venue alight on a Monday in March.

Opening proceedings were local act Ill Fate. Now, I’m quite a fan of bands with tongue-in-cheek humour, but it can be tricky to pull off well. But, whatever trepidation I may have had when I noticed the faux-fur tiger print covering their drum kit was immediately banished when Rhys, the singer and bassist, came on stage wearing a Party Cannon baseball cap and they immediately launched into their set. Musically, they come off as a mix of Rancid and Bad Religion passed through a filter of Rise Against’s 21st-Century melodic styling. Lyrically, they exhibit a wide range of tongue-in-cheek left-wing themes, tapping into anti-Tory sentiment for ‘Strong and Stable’, and taking aim at the world’s most dangerous political leaders in ‘Nukes of Hazzard’. Somewhat chaotic in how they timed their set, they still managed to warm the crowd up nicely, and proved to be great fun as openers.

It was then the turn of Bristol’s IDestroy to really get the crowd moving. The all-female trio first supported The Men for a one-off in Bristol in 2016, so it was pleasing to see them be taken on tour as the official support act.  They have given no less than 100% to their performance on every occasion I’ve seen them since, and tonight was no less energetic. Even a brief technical hiccough couldn’t stop them. They exhibit pure, unadulterated melodic punk, made of equal parts The Distillers, Bikini Kill, and Sleater Kinney, mixed with the angry punk attitude of X-ray Spex. Using their new EP Pure Joy of Life as the anchor for their setlist, they easily got the crowd going. With nothing less than joyful gusto (Cardiff crowds do like a good sing-song), the crowd gleefully sang along with the refrain of ‘Talking Shit’ and rocked out happily to newer songs like ‘98%’, ‘Lemons’, and ‘Alcohol and Vitamins’.

And then it was time for The Men themselves. Looking as if they’d been dragged from Jack the Ripper’s laudanum-laced nightmares, they launched straight into ‘Supply & Demand’ – the lead single from their latest album Double Negative, it rockets at quite a pace, instantly exciting the crowd. Leading into ‘Hidden’ from the same album, a much more caustic, crust-punk number, The Men had the crowd in absolute thrall. So, when the time came for fan-favourite ‘Margate Fhtagn’ (and yes, we did have a lovely time), they were able to stop just before the blackened-death-metal refrain and ask the crowd to headbang in full knowledge that everyone would go along with it. Crowd participation is always fun, but it’s rarely as enjoyable as it is when led by The Men.

In no small part, this is because of their own internal chemistry, which is so tight they can pull off a stop-start crowd participation section without it feeling sloppy. What also helps is the sheer energy that radiates off them. They glow so brightly with it that Marie Curie might want to have some words, but it’s incredibly infectious. They never play at anything less than full pelt, full volume, and full force, and the crowd feeds so much off that energy that “raising the roof” doesn’t really cut it.

They played Double Negative in full, but threaded it through with fan favourites like ‘Charlie’ (all about Britain’s most famous bearded scientist) and ‘This House Is Not Haunted’. Had time not been a factor, others like ‘The Gin Song’ and ‘Victoria’s Secret’ may have also had an airing – but in being incredibly popular these are also songs that risk being over-played, so it was refreshing to hear ‘Moon’ as both a call-back to their earlier work and as a slower paced mid-section. Even the encore contained a rare gem in the form of ‘Etiquette’, which opened their first album and introduced the world to their anarchic brand of Victoriana, steampunk, and comedy. However, the band are not without their serious side: the political one-two punch of ‘Doing It For The Whigs’ and ‘There’s Going To Be A Revolution’ was given extra weight by drummer Jez Miller forsaking his sticks and skins and stepping out to play guitar, all to a backdrop of the Antifa colours. Disturbed once sang of ten thousand fists raised in defiance – they’d be green with envy to see how many fists The Men could raise with these songs, spitting fire at the Tories and the nastiness of late-stage capitalism. But, as with all good things, the gig came to an end to the rousing chorus of ‘Brunel’. So, with exhortations of his engineering genius ringing in their ears, the audience departed.

Never on anything less than top form, The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing delivered an excellent show, supported with aplomb by Ill Fate and IDestroy. Whenever their circus rolls into town, it should be considered vital to attend.

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