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:: Kong :: Fucked Up ::
12 May 2011 / Islington Mill / Salford
By Jon Ashley

It’s five long years since we gave KONG their first ever published review and whilst our enthusiastic support is often lost in their nationally endorsed press packs, our collective admiration for them seems to have grown as exponentially as their sound. They obviously started from a perilously high and rather threatening point to begin with, but ever since have determinedly refined their personas and their songs. Despite the wild, mad cap banter (a rare coherent segment going along the lines of “get me JD!...Now ! they've only given me bog water to drink”, as wailed by Magpie), this is a band on a continued, vertical ascent. On-stage they have some horrendous technical problems and a good ten minute chunk of the set is lost, with strange apologies that follow and an effort to make up for the missing time, by a spirited attempt to make our ears bleed and brains fry. Yet as we’ll experience later, the P.A. can’t take them up to the required 11, just an ear friendly 7.5; but it’s enough to hear that growling base, the off-beat technical excellence of the drums and the thick wedge of shaking guitar sounds. Kong, by name and nature are immense and for those, who alongside children and animals, dare not approach, now is the time to fully engage with this delightfully dangerous, swirling monster.

~ Mr Pink Eyes : a thrilling antagonist ~

They’re not from New York, London or even Stoke, but from Toronto, yet FUCKED UP provide essential lessons in the art of audience participation and the punk rock ethic. Damian Abraham (aka Mr Pink Eyes) is guaranteed to provide an inspiring spectacle, behind him an unassuming guitar wielding Scooby Gang, belting out intelligent new age punk classics. New album “David Comes To Life” is still three weeks away from release and with a tightly nailed down web presence, fans have been lucky to grab four free downloads of new material. There’s pretty much no doubt that “Chemistry Of Common Life” is a hard marker to beat in their discography, despite the fact that everyone’s here for the sweat, the beat and the energy intense collaboration between crowd and musicians.

Islington Mill makes the ideal venue – it has this low rent, low ceiling quality that supplies the perfect basement vibe. The Mill is pretty much full, thanks not least to the local pull of the preceding band, but again the sound system is definitely at its limit, mushing up and damping the dynamics; but it doesn't really matter. Within the first minute, two thirds of the audience are an active part of a crowd surfing extravaganza and over enthusiastic mosh pit – one that never seems to stop spinning for the whole set. Perfect.

Fucked Up’s set is pretty relentless; Between his entertaining banter, Abraham makes one of many determined excursions into the crowd, at one point picking up a large candle off the bar and pouring the wax all over his chest. The rest of the band build those steady hooks around his growling attacks. He’s a man of the people, wild and unpredictable without any hints of insanity and best friends with the fans and his band; Fucked Up are worth killing for. This is the sound of punk rock dragged right into the 21st Century, anchored with a suggested melody wrought in guitars, superb basslines and smart backing vocals . You could also argue that it may well just be Manchester’s first proper rock gig of the year – head nodders are pushed to the back wall, whilst the rest of the venue erupts into a sea of scrambling bodies, rippling in the wash of adrenaline.

Fucked Up rattle through a catalogue of old and new, but even a performance approaching 90 minutes doesn't seem long enough and the set finishes abruptly; Mr Pink Eyes is left on stage hugging and thanking the assembled admirers. Unmissable action from a band who seem to love Manchester as much as we do...let's hope they come back soon..

Fucked Up
Matador Records (FU)
Brew Records (Kong)

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