The Engine Rooms, Southampton
Last year New Model Army released their 14th studio album “Winter” and after over 37 years of making music they still delight audiences with powerful and relevant thought-provoking songs that hit the mark with a ferocious honesty. Fronted by founder member Justin Sullivan the band have faced many difficult challenges over the years and still return to deliver in all areas. Tonight they arrive in Southampton for a stop off on their latest tour, with their fanatically loyal following in tow. The band have not played Southampton in quite a while and this evening the atmosphere in this packed metal shed is one of anticipation and excitement.
First up we have their hand-picked support from “Willie and the Bandits”, a three-piece band who have been thrilling festival audiences around Europe with their curious mix of genre-colliding tunes. On the Engine Rooms stage tonight it is a pleasant change to have all three members of the band right at the front of the stage; with the drum kit right in the middle, giving the audience members a fantastic view of everything going on. The band features Matthew Brooks on six string bass/stand-up bass, Andrew Naumann on drums with Wille Edwards on guitar and vocals. Their uplifting tunes feature a curious mix of blues, rock and folk sounding like no other band that have gone before them. The NMA crowd are usually a hard audience to please but Wille and the Bandits have on this tour considerably won them over.
They perform tracks from the latest album “Steal” which includes the hard-hitting “Miles Away” featuring some really epic slide guitar from Wille, who also impresses with his powerful vocals which benefit from some lovely harmonisation. They dip back into the past with a tune called “Chill Out” from the bandís debut album, where we are treated to the delightful sound of the Weissenborn lap-played guitar. The band remain with their debut album for their final song “Virgin Eyes” which is an intense rocking piece of work, which seriously shows this band are no one trick ponies. The crashing drums and thundering bass, combined with Wille’s effect-laden acoustic guitar brings their show to an epic close. The crowd enthusiastically show their appreciation for such a great set from three extremely talented musicians, that I’m sure are destined for great things.
The lights go down just after 9pm and New Model Army arrive onstage to an amazing welcome from the delighted crowd. You can just feel the positive mood in the air tonight as the band kick off with their first number “R&R”. The usual NMA mosh pit shenanigans start and though it looks a little intense in there at times, there is always a friendly family code with everyone looking after the people around them. Justin stands high up on the stage and looks menacingly out towards the audience, taking in the energy from each member before delivering a stunning version of “Winter”. Things get serious next with a statement from a song that was written over 25 years ago, with lyrics that sadly could suit the situation in Syria today – “Here Comes the War”.
The band pull many of the tracks from their latest album with tunes like “Eyes Get Used to the Darkness” and the epic “Burn the Castle” delivering in all areas. A slight respite from the hectic audience movement arrives with a beautiful acoustic version of “Higher Wall”. The band keeps the momentum high throughout the whole show and with such a huge back catalogue you never know what you are going to hear next. New Model Army are a band that always seem to rotate their set-lists and with so many people following the whole tour, the shows are always different each night. The band are as ever are on fine form with each musician knowing their part and contributing massively to these much-loved songs. Michael Dean on drums is the backbone of the band with each tune featuring such a distinctive style, this coupled with Dean’s Keys, Ceri’s precision bass and Marshal’s epic guitar work they all blend beautifully like a well-oiled machine.
After a hugely uplifting version of “Wonderful Way to Go” the band leave the stage in this incredibly hot venue for a short break and some liquid refreshment. The crowd demand that they return and sure enough after 5 long minutes they do indeed with Justin looking out to the audience with a sloppy toothless grin and a thumb up showing his appreciation for the fantastic support. The three song encore ends with the “Thunder and Consolation” single “Green and Grey”, which sees people hoisted onto each other’s shoulders in celebration of a band that have entertained us for just under 40 years in away no other band have. Tonight indeed fulfilled all expectations, from this you can see why a band like NMA has such staying power and constant demand.
Here Comes the War
Part the Waters
Eyes Get Used to the Darkness
Did You Make It Safe?
Burn the Castle
Between Dog and Wolf
Wonderful Way to Go
Green and Grey
Words & Videos by Dave Chinery (Chinners)
Pictures and gas guzzling transport by Jon Musselwhite