The Menzingers never really fail to make you smile and dance whenever you see them. This show at Engine Rooms was no different.
The energy and excitement was built in the room for a while before the quartet took to the stage. The tour was the first in the UK since the release of their latest LP Hello Exile but you could tell that the band’s absence from Britain’s south coast meant that the fans were here for more than just a 12-song medley from the bands latest release – and of course, Menzingers don’t let you down.
Opening the set was my personal favourite from Hello Exile, ‘Anna’. The instant high-energy nature of the song brought everybody inside to groove along. The notably distinctive voice of Greg Barnett rings out, setting the real tone of The Menzingers’ set. Without a breather, we were thrown back to 2012 with ‘The Obituaries’ from On The Impossible Past. The song is the perfect personification of the band, so brutally honest and unafraid of exposing their feelings and outright punk. “I will fuck this up, I fucking know it” a personal favourite lyric of mine and clearly a favourite of most in attendance since the entire venue chanted the chorus right back at the band.
Over their 7 releases it has become abundantly clear that The Menzingers take a straight forward approach to discussing romance and pain in their music, ‘Portland’ is perhaps a perfect example. The song went down a treat with the crowd, presumably most of us in attendance could relate to the “Oh Allison I love you, but I can’t change the past”, however you wish to interpret that. What staggers me with Menzingers’ shows is that you could be stood between a pre-pubescent 12 year old and a burly 45-year-old bloke and yet everybody seems to understands and consociate to the band’s lyrics wether they be written in love, angst or pain and it is truly wonderful – especially with all the nonsense going on in the world today.
‘Good Things’ followed in similar fashion. Drawing upon failure, the theme of the song is depressing yet as with practically all of the band’s material, it’s somewhat hard to feel outright depressed when listening to them.
The audience weren’t so interested in showcasing their energy, instead the entire venue seemed transfixed on the 4 talented chaps on stage, allowing the music and lyricism infiltrate their thoughts for the ninety or so minutes the band played for.
Songs like ‘Tellin Lies’, ‘Last To Know’ and ‘Strangers Forever’ slotted well in the middle of the set. The dynamic of the band’s set never really changed from the outset. The songs all seem to fit similar recurring themes and sounds, meaning that unlike in other bands’ sets, songs don’t hop from being slow and deeply depressing to flamboyantly upbeat and positive. The catchy ‘America (You’re Freaking Me Out)’ brought along a frenzy of energy that got people bouncing up and down. Barnett’s voice sounding somewhat reminiscent of a modern ska act whilst the instrumental sounding more pop-punk in nature than usual.
With the instantly recognisable first note of The Menzingers’ most popular hit ‘I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore’, the entirety of Engine Rooms erupted in excitement. It was hard to refrain from screaming the lyrics at the top of my lungs, not that I would’ve been out of place alongside 800 others doing the exact same.
We were treated towards the end of the evening to a peculiar cover of ‘Death Or Glory’ by The Clash, perhaps it was peculiar to me because I had completely zoned out during the ending of ‘London Drugs’ and managed to snap back into reality just after the cover began but I’ll admit I was pleasantly surprised. The band finished the initial set with a flawless rendition of ‘Lookers’ from After The Party and thanked the crowd for their support. Not before long and the band were back with two more huge songs in ‘In Remission’ and finally ‘After The Party’. The night was a classic example of what Menzingers are all about. Great quality punk music, a talented bunch of lads who don’t feel the need to deviate from what they are known for and great company all night.
There are still a few dates left on this tour and tickets to those shows can be found here.