This is a review of the best gig that I ever saw the Chapman Family play, at the Independent in Sunderland, it doesn’t start in Sunderland though, it starts in Leeds…
I drove down to Leeds on the afternoon of the 8th December 2012 to see local punk band Kleine Schweine play a storming set upstairs at The Packhorse in Headingly. 25 minutes of thrashing guitars, driving bass, hammering drums and frenetic vocals later I was heading out the pub back to the car to drive back north to Sunderland to go to the Independent to see The Chapman Family. I got to the venue just in time to see the last song by Reckoner who immediately impressed me with their brand of heavy bluesy rock, I’ve been looking out for them ever since but only managed to see them once more.
Next up were another first time band in the shape of Goy Boy McIlroy who made a huge impression on me with their alt blues, David’s excursions into the audience, climbing over bars, tables, speakers and just about anything else that got in the way. They have since become a firm favourite of mine and I’m constantly tracking their gig schedule to catch them as many times as I can.
A fairly quick change over and the Chapman Family were on stage getting ready for the gig. Kevin started tuning up his bass, the guitars joined in first tuning up over the general crowd noise and the Kaiser Chiefs playing over the PA then they started stringing short tunes together, Kingsley joined in on the keyboards and Scott last of all on the drums. The crowd were realizing that this might actually be the start of the set and the chatter started to die down. Scott starts hammering on the cymbals, they all sound check their mics, Kingsley yells ‘Merry Fucking Christmas’ and everyone starts making a tuneless racket. Eight crashes of the cymbals and the band launch into the wall of noise that is the intro to “Into The Breach”. Kingsley rants ‘So wake up, Fucking wake up! You’ve fucked off all your rights, You’ve fucked off all your feelings’ and there’s a few people pogoing down the front like there’s no tomorrow. ‘This is the death of truth, This is the death of truth’ he continues screeching, rising in intensity until it leaves you quaking in your boots. He sings ‘Fuck you all, Sick of your lying mouth, This is the death of you all’ as the song finally draws to a close. The power, intensity and emotion of this track is just earth shattering and you are left feeling totally drained after watching just the first track of the set. It’s a bloody marvellous set opener and one of the best tracks that I’ve heard for many many years.
As the guy next to me says ‘Oh my fucking God’ as he tries to come to terms with the acoustic mauling he’s just gone through the band slow it down with the intro to “Cruel Britannia” which builds up into another raucous crescendo before fading out to Kingsley repeating ‘You’re red, white, black and blue’ which transitions smoothly into the gentle intro to “No More Tears”. The pace quickly builds again to the more familiar classic Chapman Family thrash and the finale with the band chanting ‘No More Lies, No More Fear, No More Hate, No More Tears’ as the backing to Kingsley’s vocals as the track faded to the end. Immediately No More Tears ends then Scott thrashes the cymbal twice and it’s straight into a storming version of “This English Life” which runs straight into the slower and gentler (at the start anyway) “This Is England”
Its 26 minutes into the set and the band haven’t paused between songs, no audience chat, no catching a sly breather here and there, just full on, in your face, breakneck speed, angst ridden rock music until they introduce “Summer song” with ‘This is a song that’s on the EP’. A supercharged “Anxiety” finished the set off and Kingsley thanked Alex the promoter for putting the gig on as the end of Anxiety played out.
An absolutely excellent gig that featured the best version of their best track (Into The Breach) that I have ever heard, the best setlist that I have seen them play, the most intense gig that I have ever seen them perform and that featured one of the best supporting line ups I have ever seen.
It’s so hard to believe that I’ll never seen them live again, I’ll miss tonight’s last gig at The Georgian Theatre in Stockton, a gig that is free entry to their fans, in their home town as I’ll be working on the other side of the world but I did get to see them 11 magnificent times and wish them all every success in the future.