Words by Olly MacNamee
Having arrived to the welcome of Lagwagon, on the Sunday night of the Birmingham O2 Academy’s NOFX weekender, it was quite clear their 45 minutes on stage would set the pace for the rest of the night.
These veteran Punk rockers were fast, furious and relentless – banging out crowd pleasing Punk tunes, familiar to many. Then we had Alkaline Trio, who had the unenviable task of warming up for the band most people were here to see, NOFX.
With a set including Lagwagon perennial favourites, ‘Violins’ and ‘May 16’, and avoiding playing all but one new song off their new(ish) album, Hung, this quintet soon had the crowd banging their heads along in quick time.
Finishing off procedures with their anthemic song, ‘Razorburns’, Lagwagon left the room appropriately primed; it may have been a Sunday night, but it seemed no one bothered to inform the crowd. And party they would, but only after Alkaline Trio’s set.
Another band with a rather long career, forming in 1997, Alkaline Trio played an all business, no let-up set – many a song on the set list, but zero audience participation. And while a vast amount of the crowd were familiar with their back catalogue, Alkaline Trio just didn’t play as hard or fast as Lagwagon; barely mustering up even the most rudimentary of mosh-pits.
Then again, perhaps anyone playing with NOFX was always going to be shifted unceremoniously into the shadows. But with the same bill across the O2 Academy weekend, I think the line-up could have done with a reshuffle on the second night of their two-day residency. That, or just talk to the crowd.
And so… onto the main event, which saw Fat Mike shamble onto the stage dressed up as a (very unsexy) French maid, ready to serve up some raucous and rude hardcore Punk.
Both ringmasters and self-effacing clowns in their own travelling circus, NOFX clearly like to party – having not stopped since their previous gig on the Saturday night. At least, not if the White Russians Fat Mike was sipping throughout the set were anything to go by.
It was good to see a band so eager to involve their fans; throughout the lively and loud set, El Hefe and Fat Mike kept the crowd in the middle of their on-stage banter. Eric Melvin, always the quiet one, was happy to just sit back and enjoy.
Warming up with a few oldies but goodies, tracks like ‘Murder the Government’ and ‘Franco Un-American’ (or as the NOFX called them, “not so very good songs”) the band quickly reanimated the crowd out of its post Alkaline Trio lull. And by the time it came to playing Punk in Drublic in its entirety, the reason for this second date on the Birmingham O2 Academy stage, the NOFX fans were ready to mosh hard and more.
Favourites such as ‘Don’t Call Me White’, ‘The Brews’ and ‘The Quass’ were hammered out at eleven – the room going wild for the rare chance to NOFX perform their seminal album in full.
They even managed to tie it all up with an encore including some of their more recent album tracks, such as ‘Seeing Double at the Triple Rock’ from Wolves in Wolves’ Clothing (2006), ‘72 Hookers’ from Self-Entitled (2012), and finishing off the night’s rowdy ribaldry with ‘Kill All the White Man’ from their 1995 live album, I Heard The Suck Live!!.
A truly entertaining Birmingham weekend from these fun-loving Punksters; just don’t leave it so long NOFX.
For more on NOFX, visit http://www.nofxofficialwebsite.com/
For more on Alkaline Trio, visit http://alkalinetrio.com/
For more on Lagwagan, visit http://lagwagon.com/
For further listings from the O2 Academy (B‘ham), visit http://www.o2academybirmingham.co.uk/