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Titus Andronicus – The Cookie, Leicester, 07/06/16

It’s an oppressive Tuesday evening in downtown Leicester; the climate has gone all Mediterranean on us and there are storm clouds brewing in the distance which is why I opt to get in a further pint before heading Cookie-wards to see support Crosa Rosa crank it up to eleventy-stupid and bash out 30 minutes of grunge-inflected, thrash-happy power-pop all the way from the mean streets of Nottingham. I feel as if I’m back in 1993 as the three young lads peer through long, floppy fringes like a dirtier, scuzzier version of Hanson.  Crosa Rosa create a majestic cacophony and should be filed away in the ‘ones to watch’ category.

“O, why should wrath be mute, and fury dumb?”

Given their limited tour schedule it’s not immediately apparent why they have chosen Leicester but then Titus Andronicus rarely do things in half measures. If they make an album it’s a 29 track, five act rock opera. If they give an interview, it’s a no-holds barred examination of their inner psyche and when they play live, boy, do you know about it. The basement of The Cookie is compact and bijou; tonight it’s sweltering and inhabited by the forty-something generation, many sporting shorts and the need to reclaim their youth in a mini moshpit. Vocalist and quality beard-wearer Patrick Stickles forewarns us to play nicely before launching into what feels like 45 minutes of relentless and uncompromising New Jersey punk before any further banter ensues. For a band who strive, almost wantonly, to appear cerebral on record, their live shows are practically a Neanderthal recalibration of the senses…and I mean that as a compliment.

Titus Andronicus can be whoever you want them to be. You can superimpose your own aspirations upon them and they will reflect back your hopes, ambitions and imperfections; they are nice like that. Personally, I wanted to see a band in the throes of passion hurtling towards me like a juggernaut full of righteous indignation. Others clearly wanted a backdrop on which to muse upon their ever-decreasing vitality whereas a small minority merely wanted to party like it was 1999. Titus Andronicus are a broad church. The songbook is extensive these days and to the casual observer one song can bleed into the next until you’re convinced this is just an angry prog rock performance with one hour-long track being performed.

But newer material like ‘Fatal Flaw’ and ‘Mr. E. Man’ do offer suggestions that the dial is being turned down a notch and as a brief, albeit temporary, respite from the madness it is welcome, not least by the ageing pseudo-punks at the front. If there is a criticism to be levelled at the band it’s that the narrative they carefully weave in the studio is ripped to shreds when on stage. You can’t possibly hope to re-create the complexity of their canon when selecting piecemeal from each album. However, as a good friend of mine wisely muttered at the finale “I’m in a dingy basement with a bottle of beer in my hand and loud rock music in my ears. Life doesn’t get any better than this”.

I tell you what, you’ll find no mourning weeds here.

Photo credit: Paul Reno

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.