While fans of The Lumineers queue up outside Manchester Academy, they look on perplexed at the rag-tag group of punk misfits heading into Manchester Academy 2. There appears to be a huge variety of music on offer in Manchester tonight, but we were downstairs, watching The Bronx show the English how you do Punk, LA style.
The night’s opening band ‘Axis Of’ (****) are a good way to begin the night. They’re energetic, bouncing around the stage and making each of their musical duties as animated as possible, despite the audience attendance being paltry while they play. You wish this wouldn’t hinder their set, but it does. The three-piece manage for their last few songs to pull off somewhat of a miracle, getting the crowd to sing along and conjuring an atmosphere out of nowhere. Great stuff. Single Mothers follow as the room’s population reaches a level one could describe as “decent”. The Canadian’s just about manage to make an impression, with their frontman throwing himself about enough with enough enthusiasm to disguise the fact that he seems to never know what song they’re playing next. The opening bands warm up the crowd, but there’s only one band the room wants to see now.
The Bronx (*****) walk out, receiving a hero’s welcome from a Manchester Crowd that’s tripled in size in the past 20 minutes. They start ripping through songs from their back catalogue, new and old, with solid hardcore precision. ‘Small Stone’ and ‘Too Many Devils’ go excellently, and the band appear to have caught the venue’s security off guard – There are so many bodies flying over the barrier, they have to radio in for more people.
With punk anthems like ‘History’s Stranglers’ being belted from the stage, it’s no wonder the room is as uncontrollable as it is. Frontman Matt Caughthran seemingly spends almost as much time in the crowd as he does on the stage. He gives an inspiring speech to the Manchester crowd about their legendary music history, declaring that he wants “to hear some new shit”, before the band launch into ‘White Guilt’. The slower tempo of the song results in a shift in the mood; The incessant moshing is replaced by a hands-in-the-air group sing along, and the camaraderie shared between the stage and crowd is admirable. The Bronx have brought one hell of an show with them tonight.
The dancing and singing is soon shifted back to moshing and screaming though, with Matt Caughthran back in the crowd, running from the front to the back, singing and turning the entire venue into one huge moshpit. ‘Heart Attack American’ provides the evening with a crescendo worthy of the band. It’s sweaty, it’s dangerous, it’s loud, it’s fun, it’s everything you’d expect from The Bronx. The LA punks have a great discography on their backs, but even as a live band, they outshine their genre competitors. They don’t reinvent the wheel, but smash it to pieces and throw it to the crowd, without ever missing a beat.