Review: Refused and Thrice

A co-headline set at Manchester Academy, 31 October

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The crowd is sparse tonight at Manchester’s Academy 1. A shame, considering there’s a line-up of performances from not only one of the hardest working bands but also from some post-hardcore pioneers. Thrice and Refused have doubled up for a co-headline tour for their largely shared cult fan base who, now in their late thirties and early thirties, are happy to sup beer and respectfully applaud both bands. The blood, sweat, and tears of the moshpit are just fond memories.

Refused are on first. With frontman Dennis Lyxzen pushing 50, it is astonishing to see the energy the man brings. Like the weird love child of Mick Jagger and Dave Lee Roth, he struts, vogues and scissor kicks relentlessly through the band’s rapid hour-long set. Playing songs from their new album War Music, Refused manage to keep the post-hardcore genre fresh without compromising their sound. The music is fast, loud and political, and more relevant then it has ever been. In between screaming his lungs out to the groove-infused riffs, Lyxmen preaches his views of a better world and looking out for mankind. They’ve been singing the same messages since the mid-1990s and they don’t intend on stopping.

Although the crowd is less physical than in their teens, they passionately sing back every word

Thrice’s last Manchester gig was nearly a decade ago in 2010. A long time, considering the band has had a consistent musical output, bar one short hiatus. The crowd is psyched to see the return of a band that has matured with them. Playing songs from their 2018 album Palms, the audience gleefully welcome the more mellow numbers like Only Us and Just Breathe. Thrice don’t forget their raw, thrashy, hardcore roots however, treating the crowd to favourites The Artist in the Ambulance and Image of the Invisible.

Although the crowd is less physical than in their teens, they passionately sing back every word, making the half-vacant venue sound full. The band even manage to make their old songs sound better than they were before, with frontman Dustin Kensrue switching from smooth, sultry singing to roaring like a lion so effortlessly. It’s an extremely tight performance – with guitarist Teppei Teranishi multi-tasking between lead guitar and keyboard, and brothers Eddie and Riley Breckenridge providing an intricate rhythm section.

As the night draws to a close, Thrice perform the gospel-flavoured The Earth Will Shake, with each member contributing vocals. Whether they are harmonising or screaming, the same emotion is tangible. Here is one of the most under-rated and talented bands whose members will continue living their low-key lives and putting on a great show, regardless of how big the crowd is.

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