We Are Noise Reviews Axis Of, More Than Conquerors And Jetplane Landing's Visit To Dublin
Noise are in Dublin tonight to catch DIY legends Jetplane Landing strut their stuff at The Workmans Club. The London-based/Derry-born quartet recently released their 4th album 'Don’t Try' after a six year hiatus. We were big fans of the record (review here), so too their return to form. JPL front man Andrew Ferris has been at the helm of the Northern scene for quite a number of years. His formation of the Smalltown America label in the early noughties led to a whole host of wonderful talent getting their respective support from a label with the know how. Tonight is no different as two more STA artists join JPL for a big night of rock action!
Belfast band More Than Conquerors kick things off. With four years and an impressive CV (dates with Jimmy Eat World and We Are Scientists) under their belt, it’s clear to see why the UK rock scene has taken to them like a duck to water. MTC channel the best of the British hardcore scene while paddling on the decent side of the emo wave and tonight they absolutely rip it up. MTC are absolutely fantastic at what they do. Much like Axis Of, the Jetplane Landing influence is present but MTC put their own complex stamp on it with their real strength being their melodic nature and rhythmic prowess. Drummer Jamie Neish is lucky the drum heads made it through the set as his sticks get an almighty work out. There are mass sing-alongs with the fans in attendance, with some of the hook melodies catching me off guard. That’s what I found to be most enjoyable about watching MTC, a lot of ideas sound like they shouldn’t work but they tend to command your attention and pull you right in to what’s happening in front of you. Bar one or two throwaway efforts – ‘Smoke, Trees, Lung, Knees’ being a prime example – these guys have got songs that could conquer any rock critic. Superb set!
Sticking with all things Belfast, fellow labelmates Axis Of follow suit, hammering the crowd with hardcore screams, changing direction to pop perfection at the flick of a switch. They’re tight, loud and deliver every song like it’s their last. You can hear the pop influence but alas it’s road is blocked by the beast of Mastodon. It’s clear that Axis Of also enjoy their math rock riffage, their grunk (grunge funk anyone??) and delivering the goods in a live setting.
The hardcore fans (in every sense) are out in full throttle for Jetplane Landing’s first visit to Dublin in many years. The venue is about 3/4 full, a mix of hardcore heads and indie kids make their way to the front as JPL are greeted with rapturous applause. It’s the classic line up with the exception of new drummer (and former Fighting With Wire stickman) Craig McKean, who graces what can only be described as the most unique drum set up I’ve ever seen. Frontman Andrew Ferris’ smile could power the national grid as the godfather of Northern Ireland’s DIY scene gives the crowd a quick nod before nearly wiping out the national grid with ‘I Opt Out’. Ferris delivers his lines like it’s his first time, the anger and frustration still present, the reality still in place, his values unchanged after all these years – “the proud expectant parents and their wondrous offspring, fascinating girlfriend with good teeth and prospects, a country’s occupation once deemed shocking is now thought as awesome and intelligence is gathered by those that clearly have none.”
Ferris has never been afraid of wearing his heart on his sleeve and shooting from the hip. Take the following ‘Beat Generation….Ha!’ where he punctuates every word in the first verse, “Hey maggots get off my turf, I wrote shit like this fucking years ago” as the crowd fist pump and back him in support with every word.
The sound of police sirens fill the room next as JPL delve into their funk rock period on ‘Backlash Cop’. I’ve always found this era of the band to be a tough one to digest but their nod to the heyday of RATM goes down an absolute storm tonight as all sorts of white man robotics take priority on the floor.
The die hards fans are getting their money’s worth too as cult gems like ‘My Fundamental Flaw’ from the band’s debut EP gets a rare outing, so too the poptastic ‘Brave Gravity’ which sounds just as fresh 10 years on.
Lyrical content and purpose has always been at the forefront of the JPL ethos and although the female demographic could take offence if songs like ‘What The Argument Has Changed’ were taken out of context it’s still JPL at their absolute best. Ferris again delivering lines with the same passion – “One! I love you too much, two! i can change, third and most important of all, it’s only ever been you” before the whole place erupts into mass chorus “so fuck you and your opposite sex!”.
The band continue to pick from their extensive back catalogue, jumping from album to album and satisfying fans both new and old along the way. The powerhouse riffage that is ‘The Violence’ has defaulted the floor to bobble head setting as guitarist Cahir O’Doherty shreds the absolute shit out of his guitar in the process.
As much as I thought the closing track on the band’s latest offering ‘Magnetic Sea’ was “throwaway” tonight the band convince me otherwise as the opening riff has me hooked from the get go. Live JPL have always been more than impressive, Ferris sounds as he does on record and the backing of O’Doherty’s At The Drive In-like screams and bassist Jamie Burchell’s sweet harmonies only cement the band’s status as a force to be reckoned with.
JPL tone it down a little and prove that they can still deliver the classic pop song on ‘My Radio Heart’, a track that has a small group of girls holding their hearts and swooning every word in awe.
Some crowd participation is up next in the form of hand clapping as the band deliver a fine rendition of ‘Why Do They Never Play Les Savy Fav On The Radio?’. If there ever was a track that would highlight each band member’s individual talent this would be it. We get the melodic verses, the playful Paul Simon-esque bass pattern, the intense hardcore screams, the fill-hungry drumming and that wonderful RATM build up that nearly takes the roof off the building upon its climax.
Ferris pays homage to his deceased father and the factory workers of Derry on an emotional version of ‘Walls of Derry’. The attentive audience connects with Ferris mid song which spawns an appreciative smile in recognition. After the song Ferris pays tribute to every JPL fan, he mentions the special connection the band and their audience have, he mentions how nice it is to come back and see the same faces after all these years as well as thanking those in attendance for buying the records and coming to the shows. “That is why we’re still doing it and that is why we can’t wait to bring you our next record.” There’s a loud applause before the band and the entire floor engage in a mass sing-along for their classic ‘Calculate The Risk’. “It took me so long to notice that we could hide! so easily, hide! so easy, hide! so easily, just calculate the risk boy!”. It’s at this stage you see just how passionate these fans really are, the fans would stay here all night, I’m sure JPL would too if they had their way.
For the encore it’s all brought back full circle, bass player Jamie Burchell gives a humble “thanks” before the Jetplane departs. For the passengers, the departing message is loud and clear ‘There is no real courage unless there is real danger’ as Ferris makes it very clear “we get what we’re given”. It’s a melodic finish but as always it has just enough bite for one last boogie, just enough ammo for some final riffage and more importantly more than enough lyrical importance to leave you walking away thinking. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this band should have been huge, they’ve got a message, they’ve got hooks, they’ve got riffs and you can bet your life on it that they’ve got songs. Jetplane Landing, first class all the way!
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