LIVE REVIEW: Cro-Mags @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

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With the amount of tours that have been postponed over the past couple of years, it is easy to say that there are a large number of long awaited returns to these shores. CRO-MAGS return to the UK though, has definitely been longer awaited than most due to the last time Harley Flanagan was in the UK with the band was way back in the early 2000s so there’s long awaited and then there’s that! This UK and European jaunt from CRO-MAGS was originally put off from the same time a year ago so this was another reason for it to be so eagerly anticipated and lets just say that the band were on absolutely blistering form throughout an energetic and passionate set.

Cage Fight live @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. Photo Credit: Alex DixonCage Fight live @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. Photo Credit: Alex Dixon

Rewind a couple of hours though and first up were CAGE FIGHT who got the night started with a bang. With their self-titled debut album only coming out a month previous, the songs in their set were naturally culled from that and went down well, especially a particularly vicious Hope Castrated. Vocalist Rachel Aspe unleashed her formidable vocals from the word go and was a commanding presence standing centre stage, flanked by guitarist James Monteith and bassist Jon Reid and backed by drummer Nick Plews, all great musicians who combine to make the great noise that CAGE FIGHT make and this made for a great start to tonight’s proceedings.

Rating: 8/10

Street Soldier live @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. Photo Credit: Alex DixonStreet Soldier live @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. Photo Credit: Alex Dixon

Following up a great and well received set by such a new band garnering all the right plaudits would be a task for a lot of bands but STREET SOLDIER prove they are more than up to the task in hand. Fresh off a support slot with another band of NYHC legends in SICK OF IT ALL, STREET SOLDIER showed the CRO-MAGS faithful what they were all about with a raging set that ticked all the right boxes. Boot Off (Ready For War), from their last EP Turn Dangerous, landing particularly heavy and had to be the highlight of a set that put the crowd in a hyped up mood for tonight’s headliners. Already a fierce live band, STREET SOLDIER gain more power every time they hit a stage and the audience lapped up a well polished and well received set of bruising groove laden hardcore.

Rating: 8/10

Cro-Mags live @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. Photo Credit: Alex DixonCro-Mags live @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. Photo Credit: Alex Dixon

The anticipation for CRO-MAGS was heavy in the air as the familiar strains of longtime intro music, the theme from A Clockwork Orange started and as CRO-MAGS took to the stage, the still formidable Harley Flanagan declared as only he could “if you come to see a band, you want to be close enough to see them in the eyes, you don’t want to stand back there with your cup of tea. Ok a lot of you have moved up, the rest of you must be scared of me, that’s alright, you have every reason to be”. And with that menacing message setting the tone right, the creeping intro to We Gotta Know kicked in, cranking up the tension, and as intros to songs go, only Big Takeover by BAD BRAINS conjures and creates tension like it, and before long that tension was released and the song exploded like nothing else. The chaos that subsequently erupts sums up CRO-MAGS‘ entire set as they tear the the roof off the Brudenell Social Club with a flawless set of hardcore anthems.

Harley Flanagan is on fine form throughout as were the rest of band as they tear through a set that mainly consisted of Age Of Quarrel anthems and newer material from In The Beginning and 2020 with a few choice cuts from Best Wishes, Alpha Omega and Revenge thrown in for good measure, resulting in a great set list that took in all eras of the bans, encapsulating all that makes CRO-MAGS great. With a great sound, they tore through the charged up set at an electrifying pace and showed exactly why they are so revered when it comes to hardcore music and beyond.

Cro-Mags live @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. Photo Credit: Alex DixonCro-Mags live @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. Photo Credit: Alex Dixon

The Age Of Quarrel material played, such as Show You No Mercy, World Peace and Life Of My Own, still sounds flawless and current while the recent material like PTSD and From The Grave sits perfectly amongst it and it has to be said that all members of the band played their hearts out tonight and made it sound like they had been playing together forever.

As a berserk Hard Times and Apocalypse Now round off the phenomenal set, the lively crowd roared their appreciation and saw the New York legends off with a rousing applause, having witnessed a lesson in hardcore and a performance that will live long in the memory. They were on fine form and made it look easy.

Rating: 10/10

Check out our photo gallery from the night’s action in Leeds from Alex Dixon here:

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