There are few bands that embody the gnarled punk ethos quite like The Bronx and they used the suitably grotty surroundings of The Cockpit – a million miles away from the seedy glamour of their stomping ground in LA – to prove that when it comes to booze-sodden, bone-crunching, confrontational punk, they’re simply untouchable.
First up, however, is Northern Ireland’s Axis Of, who clearly remember when Muse weren’t a bloated and humourless embarrassment and were actually capable of delivering meaty blasts of riff-laden rock as, on more than one occasion, the band’s sound does doff its cap in that direction.
Canada’s Single Mothers offer up a suitably chunky slice of throaty hardcore, a la Touche Amore and Defeater, but are unfortunately derailed by a singer who, if I was being polite, comes across as a thundering arsehole with his ‘I’d rather be anywhere but here’ demeanour severely detracting from what should have been an enjoyable set.
There’s no such contempt for the audience from The Bronx’s amiable front man Matt Caughthran, whose perma-smile suggests there is nowhere else he’d rather be; this stage is his home for the evening and he’s going to damn well make himself comfortable.
After a five-year break, in which they explored their alter-egos in Mariachi El Bronx, the band’s self-titled fourth album has been widely praised so it’s little wonder that their set was liberally peppered with tracks from it. ‘The Unholy Hand’ kicks things off with a wallop and within seconds the stage is awash with wide-eyed punters ready to fling themselves into the crowd with reckless abandon before the barnstorming ‘Under the Rabbit’ confirms that their latest album has more than enough frenetic punk anthems to sit comfortably amongst their burgeoning cannon.
‘Knifeman’ from their third album proves itself to be the jewel in the band’s crown with Caughthran spending the entirety of the song prowling around the sweaty masses on the floor like a silverback gorilla, while ‘Rape Zombie’ is dedicated to guitarist Ken Horne to celebrate the seventh anniversary of him dropping E for the first time, incidentally at The Cockpit.
Before the night is out, Caughthran declares in his trademark yelp that “The Bronx are mutherfuckin’ back” and there isn’t a single person in the room who would argue that this isn’t the greatest news they’ve heard all year.