New Model Army – 22/12/02 – The Forum, London

New Model Army ticket Dec 2002First time to see the Army for 5 years. The Forum is one of London’s best venues – not too big, with great acoustics and a sloping floor, and I was pleasantly surprised to see New Model Army still popular enough to get a decent crowd in. Not sure who the support act was, but I was drinking lager on the pavement outside the Bull & Gate next door while they were on.

The New Model Army fraternity (The Family), a motley collection of army surplus, dreads, stripey leggings, dogs on strings, special brew and lentils, are a fascinating bunch to watch, they really are. I know I (nor any of my friends) don’t really blend in, with my short hair and clean clothes (I had just arrived back from Sunday dinner with my parents), but they are quite friendly despite the aggressive aura that some try so hard to give off. It’s a good crowd to be part of though, especially when you have seats upstairs, so can see perfectly despite the dozens of shoulder-standers on the main floor, and stand little chance of getting an elbow in the face.

Justin Sullivan is the only one left now, and he’s assembled a 5 piece band of surprisingly clean-cut young men. He is NMA though, so as long as his little helpers are halfway decent, I’m not too bothered. He’s mellowed in his old age (he must be 50 now), singing about slightly more spiritual matters than bringing down Maggie Thatcher, but he still has that manic glare, and ‘don’t fookin mess’ look about him. He has the crowd in the palm of his hand, and with absolutely no rock-star ego, is quite happy to play the old favourites (take note, Mr Wilson). I think ‘51st State…’ will always be the ultimate favourite, but he cranked them all out – ‘Poison Street’, ‘Vengeance’, ‘Get Me Out’, ‘Stupid Questions’, ‘Green and Grey’ and many, many more. A very, very good gig.

Footnote: Two bottles of tequila were consumed (between 3 of us) afterwards, but the next day’s hangover was somewhat compounded by the tragic news that Joe Strummer had died that night. 😦

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