25th June | Fleece

Tonight’s fine dining experience at the Fleece is a two-course set menu of NOISE.

For starter, you get USA Nails. Their set harks back to the golden age of The Scene With No Name (can something have a ‘golden age’ when it only last five minutes? Whatever). Pounding basslines are overlaid with simple-but-effective melodies and creative songwriting. Opener ‘Smile’ is reminiscent of McLusky, bass-heavy in the verses before unloading in the choruses.

‘A Sense Of Self Will Always Limit You’ is tight and jittery. ‘You Wish’, meanwhile, is all the good parts of Ikara Colt, and is absolutely the best song played all night by anyone. In many ways, ‘You Wish’ epitomises their current approach – on paper, it’s a very simple riff overlaying a very simple bassline, but with feedback added in all the right places, the end result is a song that is heavy, and utterly absorbing.

The delivery throughout is fierce but effective, the vocals emotional but controlled. Closing with two old favourites in ‘They’d Name An Age’ and the chaotic ‘Palm Them Off With Me’, their victory is assured. As the long line at their merchandise stall afterwards attests, they have won a good number of new fans tonight.

After such an excellent starter has got all the diners in the mood, surely the main course cannot fail? Metz start off well enough. Opener ‘Mess Of Wires’ is explosive, quickly showcasing the immense drumming of Hayden Menzies. ‘Spit You Out’ is suitably deranged and angry.

As the set goes on, though, it becomes apparent that the more advanced Metz sound, for which their 2017 record Strange Peace was rightly lauded, is still somewhat missing from their live show.

If USA Nails are a nice salmon confit – simple, but fresh and flavourful – then Metz are an expensive steak that has been overcooked by an inattentive chef – disappointing, flavourless, something of a chore to get through. Even at a ‘we’re-punk-so-it’s-long-enough’ set of barely 45 minutes, this set just drags along in a mess of noise. Alex Edkins’ vocals are a gruesome mixture of incomprehensible and inaudible, lost in the racket around it.

Songs like ‘Cellophane’, so effective on the record, lose all their subtlety here, and lose what makes them great in the process. Noise is all well and good, but if that is all you have, then you may as well just go and sit near the nearest roadwork crew and listen to that. Not that Metz are as bad as that tonight, not by a long shot, but the Metz we see here is a pale comparison of the one we saw on Strange Peace. For many, their performance will have been exactly what they went to The Fleece for tonight, a big old blast of noise, but for a band that has shown it has the ability to be a lot more than that, this felt like a missed opportunity.

All in all, then, nobody went home hungry, but maybe this particular meal won’t live in the memory quite as long as it might have done.

See the video for ‘Dry Up’ here: