New Model Army @ o2 Institute, 10th January 2020

New Model Army @ o2 Institute, 10th January 2020New Model Army @ o2 Institute, 10th January 2020New Model Army @ o2 Institute, 10th January 2020New Model Army @ o2 Institute, 10th January 2020New Model Army @ o2 Institute, 10th January 2020New Model Army @ o2 Institute, 10th January 2020New Model Army @ o2 Institute, 10th January 2020

A somewhat delayed gig, due to illness, New Model Army finally played the second city to promote last years ‘From Here’ album, which I was lucky enough to review and declared it to be one of their finest. Opening with ‘No Rest’ and a single drum intro, tipping a hat to that early Marquee show, it was a perhaps the heaviest the gig would be, and indeed at one point Justin Sullivan said “it’s quite nice to have a bit of silence in the middle of a gig” (someone then shouts back) “no, it’s okay, you don’t have to say anything”.

Now in his sixties, Sullivan has matured from the angry young man of those Marquee days, and whilst his song-writing is more polished (however there was no violin tonight and hence no ‘Green and Grey’ or ‘Vagabonds’) his lyrics remain as vital, poignant and relevant today as they always have.

The original date for this gig was before last year’s Election, and staunch Labour supporter Sullivan commented that “no one saw that coming” and before playing ‘51st State’ he said it was an old song but somehow still relevant.

These are indeed changing and challenging times we live in and we are told to “take care of each other, be kind” and if we’re driving that the roads will be a bit safer as he’s been banned from driving. 

The set draws from all of their career.   This is their 40th anniversary but the stand out songs for me are those drawn from the latest album.   I said at the time of reviewing, it was ‘Thunder and Consolation’ part two, and hearing them blend seamlessly live with songs from that album I stand by that statement. I truly believe ‘From Here’ is one of their finest albums.

The set closer is ‘Here Comes the War’ which given the current world situation couldn’t be more timely or appropriate.

For the encore NMA always change things a little, and we get ‘Courage’, ‘Bad Old World’ and ‘125mph’ and, as is usual now, a second encore of ‘I Love the World’.

The heat is rising from the mass of (largely middle aged, bare chested men) in the stalls which is welcome as the venue is cold, a point commented on by Sullivan and he tells us when they arrived at the venue and asked for the heating to be put on it was greeted by the venue as shock, “heating in January”?

This is, as stated, their 40th year, and as a tease Sullivan says “we may do some shows where you get to choose what we play, but there are a lot of songs, so maybe” and he does end the set by saying they’ll see us later in the year at the anniversary shows.

I’ve seen NMA a few times over the past 35 years (yeah I came a little late to the party) but they have never failed to not give an honest, enjoyable show but in recent years they have raised the bar even higher. Is this a maturity thing? Is this a reaction to the crazy times of which we now live? I’m not sure but ‘From Here’ is a stunning album, and on stage the songs become even more alive. I for one can’t wait for the next gig and this new decade has started in magnificent style.

I must also mention the excellent support tonight, The Autumn Saints, an Anglo-American trio who played with a driving rhythmic pulse very similar to Screaming Blue Messiahs, which is never a bad thing. Certainly worth further investigation.

 

Set-list

No Rest
Never Arriving
The Weather
The Charge
Watch and Learn
51st State
Believe it
From Here
Where am I
Wipeout
Eyes Get Used to the Darkness
End of Days
Setting Sun
Winter
States Radio
Here Comes the War
Courage
Bad Old World
125mph
I Love the World

Reviewer: Glenn Raybone
Photographer: Ian Dunn

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