It's always a great pleasure seeing New Model Army at The Forum, an annual Christmas treat which this year came wrapped in a two-set box of delights.
At 7.45 'The Long Goodbye' was the first song to hit the merry crowd and to follow ‘Running in the Rain’ quickly dispelling any thoughts of a muted first set. ‘All Of This’ and ‘Strogoula’ followed as Justin Sullivan’s first words explained; “Good evening! Tonight we're gonna trawl through these thirty seven years in a very aimless way”. Typically dressed all in black (what else?) Sullivan looks more relaxed than ever in charge of the good ship NMA. With passion, pride and perseverance still in plentiful supply and clearly charting a passage of creative excess it looks like times are as good as they ever were for the band.
The violin soaked set threw up many classic tunes new and old with personal favourites ‘Inheritance’, ‘Courage’ and ‘Ballad of Bodmin Pill’ leaving us all singing the unmistakable “We are lost, we are freaks, we are crippled, we are weak” – and that was only the end of the first set.
The blistering ‘Angry Planet’ kicked off the second instalment with personal favourites
‘Lights Go Out’, the timely ‘Winter’ with its perfect arrangement and ‘Ambition’ adding to the musical goose-bumps of the night. The encore of ‘No Greater Love’ had Michael Dean’s drum kit shaking with a fervour that I’m sure conjured up the spirit of Rob Heaton, so important in the drum fuelled explosive evolution of NMA. A thought crossed my mind. How many hours have I spent looking up at New Model Army from this very pit? From the heady days of The Town and Country Club to its modern-day incarnation, I cannot say, but more precious musical moments would be hard to come by.
The set is laden with classic songs and lyrics and despite having their roots in a previous generation still confirms New Model Army as a band very much of our times. The appeal endures and tonight’s performance serves only to strengthen every single one of those musical bonds whilst tethering a few more for good measure.
Running in the Rain
All Of This
Over the Wire
Ballad of Bodmin Pill
Lights Go Out
March in September
Eyes Get Used to the Darkness
No Greater Love
Get Me Out