There aren’t many bands whose body of work provokes such wildly contrasting opinions quite like ‘…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead’. For everyone that thinks 2002’s ‘Source Tags & Codes’ represents post-hardcore at its unbeatable zenith, there’s someone who considers 2005’s ‘Worlds Apart’ a bloated, unlistenable disaster.
However, what has never been in question is their status as one of rock music’s most dynamic and captivating live acts and after this breathtaking set, it’s easy to see why. In fact, I had to be forcibly restrained at times from clambering up on stage and declaring my unrequited love for them.
Before the first flourishing of my new crush, however, the sparse crowd was treated to a spot of nostalgia in the shape of grunge revivalists Nine Black Alps, who enjoyed a great deal of attention back in the mid-00s. Front man Sam Forrest evidently thinks he’s still in those halcyon days if his Anchorman mimicking t-shirt, which states “I’m kind of a big deal around here”, is to be believed. Unfortunately for Sam, Nine Black Alps haven’t been a big deal for some time now but that doesn’t detract from an energetic set that seamlessly blends the Nirvana-aping singles from debut album ‘Everything Is’ with newer cuts from last year’s ‘Sirens’.
At the outset of ‘Trail of Dead’s’ pulverising set, diminutive front man Conrad Keely explains that the four-piece haven’t been in the same room as each other for three months; not that you’d know it from opener ‘It Was There That I Saw You’, which is launched with a stomach churning wall of noise that barely relents for the next 90 minutes. You know that feeling when you lock eyes with someone across the room, fall in love with them immediately and know you’re going to spend the rest of your life with them? Yeah, that.
The effortlessly cool Jamie Miller and founding member Jason Preece swap seamlessly between guitar and drum duties, with Miller in particular delivering a master class in pulsating, pounding and, frankly, perfect, rock ‘n roll drumming. However, every member of the band offers something unique to justify ‘Trail of Dead’s’ formidable live reputation with gangly bassist Autry Fulbright II, who looks like he’s walked straight out of a 1980s LA hardcore band, using ‘Catatonic’ to perform a series of gravity defying twists ‘n turns that would be the envy of a few Olympic gymnasts.
By the end of their awe-inspiring set the band are dripping like a group of middle-aged women at a Tom Jones concert, but it isn’t enough to prevent them from delivering a closing salvo of ‘Totally Natural’ and ‘Another Morning Stoner’, which merely confirms what I suspected from the opening few seconds; I want to quit my job and dedicate my life to this band. You should too.