Support: IDestroy, Trillains, Newcastle13th March 2018. 

Arh man I hate days like this, sitting in front of the computer trying to compose a witty, yet informative review of a band that you know simply won’t do them justice. I mean they are certainly cornering a niche market here, punk/metal Victorian comedy anyone? And I know several if not all of those words will put some people off, but oh they are glorious to behold, especially live.

In essence they look like the local AmDram auditioned for the cast of Oliver and only punks and metallers turned up (this is not a criticism) and all their songs are about the Victorian era but just looking around the crowd you have to admire the diversity of people they have won over and when soaking up the atmosphere you have to wonder if this is what floating on a cloud of laudanum is really like?

Goths, punks, metallers and a crowd of “normal” blokes who look like they may have taken a wrong turn when exiting Wetherspoons, like a little island of plaid in a sea of Victorian undertakers are all enthralled and greet each song like a load of MP’s who’ve just discovered an expenses loop-hole.

If you can show me another band that can weave politics, religion, Cthulhu and baby farming into a set that makes you laugh your arse off then I’ll happily eat a stove pipe hat. The pure pun genius of “There she glows”, a song about Marie Curie and the accompanying glow in the dark t-shirt will stay with me, well as long as radiation. It’s absolute punk pun perfection from start to finish. Mind I’m wary of selling these guys short by over egging the comedy, they are not a “comedy” band, where the laughs come at the expense of great music and football chants replace the need for good songs. The Men deliver both great tunes and biting comedy in equal measure, so as much as I love a song about Charles Darwin, if the melody was pants then even I couldn’t be persuaded, fortunately it’s not, so that’s ok.

There’s no doubt that guitarist Andrew O’Neill is a massive metal fan as he ploughs through riffs relating to the audience’s t-shirts during a gap in proceedings. Impressive playing and what seems like a genuine love for a genre that is obviously a massive influence. Essentially though they sound like a punk band, although again that’s unfair considering the variety of music being offered up. A little cockney knees up, a dash of 60’s pop, some doom metal, a pinch of music hall and a sing-along hymn to atheism (This House Is Not Haunted), christ what more do you want, there really is something for everyone without, I hasten to add without loosing any of their originality.

Lead singer Andy Heintz looks like he could have been an inventor on Vision On and plays the saw and bow perfectly, giving that ethereal Theremin sound that normally no one really likes but sounds great tonight. Bassist Marc Burrows adds to the anarchic comedy and still maintains a rein on the music along with drummer Jez Miller making them as tight as the proverbial gnat’s chuff.

Tonight, they’ve found the perfect mix of older, popular songs like the Cthulhu eating your granny on a day-trip to Margate one and Doing it for the Whigs fitting right in with tracks from their new album Double Negative which introduces songs about Burke & Hare, the Jack the Ripper marketing machine and as previously mentioned Marie Curie and baby farming. It’s darker and heavier than previous releases but still has The Men’s propensity for catchy melodies and intelligent lyrics. I think The Men describe it best. “It’s dark, savage, brutal and holds up the rotten corpse of Britain’s past as a mirror to the sorry state of the present…and then rubs yer face in it so you won’t do it again.”

So if you fancy something a little different, quite loud and massively entertaining you need look no further, The Men provide all that and more in bucket loads, all with a socialist conscience and an interesting take on our collective past endeavors. No googles or top hats needed, all comers welcome, grab a gin and get them knees up!

Edit: and to the young gentleman who looked like he was making his first foray into the gothy subculture and seemed awkward as shit. You can relax now, you’ve found your tribe. It ain’t going to be easy, outsiders don’t always get it, but by the look of pure joy on your face at the end of the gig I’d say you were home.

“Welcome to my house! Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring.”

Fiona Hardy

Photos David Ellis

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