Oct 7, 2010

Titus Andronicus @ Webster Hall

Fully raucous, a riot, an ecstatic fist pump. A serious mindfuck. I still shake when I think about September 25, the night I saw Titus Andronicus at the venerable Webster Hall in the East Village in New York. This night not only cemented my opinion that Titus Andronicus are the band of 2010, but also gave me the idea that this night would rank as easily one of the great live music experiences of my entire life. Why? Well, the music is great for a start. But it is the passion, the sheer ferocity, the ENERGY. The Life.

Firstly, the venue. Webster Hall. It was originally built in 1886 and was considered the country's first modern nightclub.It held rallies, balls and was later a speakeasy. Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie played there in the 50s. Later on it witnessed Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles and a slew of other legends. In 1992 it was reborn in its current guise as a modern rock venue. It is a truly beautiful venue with many of the original 19th century colour schemes carefully restored. The building was granted Landmark status in 2008 and it has played host to Bright Eyes, Sonic Youth, Sleater-Kinney, Mogwai, Spoon and Explosions in The Sky in recent years. Titus Andronicus would be the latest to grace the stage.

Grace it they did. On a warm New York Saturday night they blew away a fervent audience for an hour and a half. They ripped out our hearts and minds and made sure we also had truckloads of fun. The perfect way to start the night was definitely "A Perfect Union". 'Tramps like us, baby we were born to die' we all screamed in unison. It set the night afire and we gratefully went along for the ride. It never began to let up after that. The band thundered through a wonderful set, equal parts passion and raw power and also meaning and full intent. The band were tight as could be with thunderous guitar lines and absolutely pounding drumming. "No Future Par Three: Escape From No Future" was an early highlight. The refrain of 'You Will Always Be A Loser' echoed around the hall as we all gleefully sang along. They still managed to play some tunes from their debut album though, with "Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ" being a stand out of the night. But if they started strongly, then they finished even stronger. "To Old Friends And New" was a good change of pace. Its mournful and deliberate tone was eternally moving. Did I say moving? All fourteen minutes of "The Battle Of Hampton Roads" was an exercise in strength, emotion and complete meaning. If they didn't bring the bagpipes they certainly brought everything else. If that didn't enduce a tear then the next song did. "Four Score And Seven" (the song of 2010) was impossibly perfect. Its slow beginning builds the drama. Its dramatic finish is an avalanche of total emotion and righteous passion. This song sent me to places that I did not know existed. An AC/DC cover closed the night with the help of wonderful support act Free Energy. A night that will be burned deep into my memory. Thanks to a truly great and totally passionate band. I should mention before closing two special people in this band. Firstly Amy Klein on guitar. A ball of joy and energy she kept the excitement levels up if they ever dared to drop. Then there is the magnificent Patrick Stickles. This night seemed extra special to him. Playing close to his home in New Jersey he managed to have his high school principal father in attendance. We waved hello to him and through out the night he gave various shout outs to many other family members. Patrick seemed such a warm and giving character, added further weight to his already considerable talents. The man is a buzzsaw of unbridled energy and passion. Shredding his guitar and his voice, he is the perfect vessel for a slew of songs of fierce intelligence and unstoppable power. I thank him and his band for giving me a night that I can not possibly ever forget. Truly sublime.

Set List
A More Perfect Union
Richard II
No Future Par Three: Escape From No Future
Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ
Theme From "Cheers"
Titus Andronicus
To Old Friends And New
The Battle Of Hampton Roads
Titus Andronicus Forever
...And Ever
Four Score And Seven
It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n Roll) (with Free Energy)


  • At October 08, 2010 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Agreed, a truely brilliant show from an incredible band.


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