New Model Army
Reviewed by Marc Savlov, Fri., March 18, 2005
New Model Army
Elysium, Friday, March 18Incendiary. En-thralling. Perfect in every imaginable way. It's exactly 25 years on, and the Bradford lads led by frontman Justin Sullivan are, amazingly, better than ever. None of their UK punk contemporaries from the Class of '80 have weathered the years as well as this lockstep Army, and surely no one in the packed Elysium audience could've imagined such a sternum-rattling, soul-stirring return to both Austin (they last dropped by 16 years ago) and martial musical form. Thundering opener "Over the Wire" revealed not a band at all, but an explosive force of nature that wedded Michael Dean's booming metronomic drums to Nelson Blomberg's roaring bass riffs and Sullivan's acoustic breaks and impassioned delivery. The fiddle-fit leader, eyes beaming the righteous fire of the true zealot/artist, stalked the stage like a panther, guitar, voice, and body broadcasting the truth of life like a white-light beacon of hope in an increasingly blackened world. You could've died straight off, and it would've been a "Wonderful Way to Go," but then you'd have missed classics "Green and Grey," "51st State," and midset masterpiece "Here Comes the War," which, with its mounting sense of the inevitability of human folly ("You screamed give us liberty or give us death now you've got both [so] put out the lights in the age of reason!") left nary a dry eye in the house. Closer "I Love the World" found Sullivan and life itself "locked together here in this bittersweet embrace," with a final, anthemic "Oh, God, I love the world!" testifying to the redemptive power of spitting love in the face of despair, a half-dozen amps, and a punk rock heart as big as the world.