Live Reviews

LIVE REVIEW: Thrice, Refused, Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow, 27/10/2019

Everyone loves a co-headline tour, especially when those co-headliners are Refused and Thrice. Last year Thrice released their latest album Palms through Epitaph Records whilst Refused made their long-awaited comeback in 2015 with Freedom. When the tour recently rolled into Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow we were there to see just what the night held.

There are two schools of thought on Refused. Firstly they aren’t the band they once were and keeping this reunion going tarnishes their legacy. The other is that they aren’t the band they once but they’re still one of the most vital live bands the 90s produced.

Based on tonight, it’s very much the latter. Few hardcore bands can balance ferocity with a good time, rock’n’ roll feel and impassioned, if occasionally simplistic, political sloganeering. What separates Refused from the clumsier exports of the likes of Fever 333 is the craft and class of their songwriting.

The tunes are as sharp as the band’s suits, and it’s hard to resist the twists and turns from the jagged edge aggression of the likes of Rather Be Dead and Economy Of Death and the hip-swinging punk of The Shape Of Punk To Come. It’s a set so full of sincerity, it doesn’t even seem cliched with Dennis Lyxzen performs part of the set from the crowd, a tried and tested punk move that somehow still feels vital when attached to this music.

From the camp strut of Rev001 to the final walls of ringing feedback of New Noise, Refused play with a flair and accuracy most bands could only dream of. When you combine that with such a strong back catalogue, the hardcore Mick Jagger on vocals and a moody light show…there’s not many artists could hold their own. 9/10

It speaks volumes to Thrice’s wisdom that they don’t try and match Refused’s sense of urgency. Instead, the band focus on their more expansive material, focusing on cerebral compositions over musical brawn.

Thrice are at their best creating richly textured soundscapes, rooted in arrangements as immediate as they are sophisticated. The band seamlessly blend a hypnotic live show with their tracks, building an atmosphere that frequently builds to an emotive breaking point before powerful crescendos break the tension. A trick they’re pretty much peerless at.

When the band occasionally dip into their heavier material, such as Silhouette or The Arsonist, it’s a reminder that they can still rage with the best of them. It’s just that this version of Thrice prefers to pick and choose its battles. Sticking to cinematic scale and beauty of Hurricane and tear-jerking intimacy of Red Sky instead.

If there is a misstep tonight, it’s the band play usual set-ender The Earth Will Shake before new track Beyond The Pines. The impact of flawless The Earth Will Shake is totally lost when it’s followed by a much mellower and less interesting track. A minor misfire to end a night of musical triumphs. 8/10

Words and photos: Calum McMillan