New Model Army are an essential band to experience live, for new and old fans alike.
’80s alternative icons New Model Army opened their two-month tour of the UK and Europe in Southampton’s very own 1865 on Tuesday 8th October, playing their latest album From Here live for the very first time. Supporting them at this gig was Shattercones, acclaimed soundscape band from London. Unfortunately, since Southampton buses don’t like me I didn’t have a chance to catch their set, but when I did eventually arrive at the venue the crowd was warmed up and enjoying a night of great music.
It was my first time visiting the 1865, and now I know why it’s considered one of the best venues in Southampton. It was also the perfect fit for New Model Army and their fans – big enough for a truly electric atmosphere, but small enough to feel intimate, which is just what the band were looking for in this tour. It was a good mix in terms of energy – those standing further back were able to chill out and enjoy the music, while closer to the front was for the fans who wanted to get involved with a intense mosh pit.
Soon enough, New Model Army came out on to the stage, diving straight in with ‘One of the Chosen’, from 2007’s High. An excellent start to the set that had the crowd excited from the very start. In less than five minutes, the audience had gone wild, and a mosh pit formed that would be going strong until the end of the gig. The rest of the setlist was a nice balance between old and new songs, featuring many from the new album, From Here. I was intrigued to see how these more atmospheric and laid-back songs would translate into a live gig, but the likes of ‘Never Arriving’ and ‘Passing Through’ still had the audience singing every word.
Speaking of the audience, this has to be one of the most engaged crowds I’ve ever seen at a show. Like I said, further back in the crowd was for those who wanted a chilled night of good music, but at the front, perfect anarchy reigned. From the extreme pit to fans standing up straight on each other’s shoulders, it’s no wonder that security was exasperated. However, they were held back by the band themselves: “Don’t worry if they fall,” said lead singer Justin Sullivan, “If they do, it’s their own fault”.
Throughout the set, New Model Army didn’t shy away when things got political – which was fairly early into the gig when they launched into ‘51st State’, one of the real highlights of the show. Although I was expecting more classic songs like ‘Vagabond’, the setlist was faultless and matched the atmosphere effortlessly. Although the crowd calmed down during songs like the soundtrack-worthy ‘Maps’, New Model Army had no problem keeping the audience hooked on their every word.
For new and old fans alike, New Model Army’s performance at the 1865 was spectacular. If you’ve been a long-term listener, or just want to experience the atmosphere of a good alternative gig, this band is unmissable. There’s no question as to why fans were so excited to be there; with New Model Army an unforgettable show is a guarantee.
Check out New Model Army at one of their upcoming tour dates here.