Sometimes it’s best not to overthink things.
I learned this pretty quickly at the Academy when Death From Above 1979 came to town. How will new album The Physical World stand up live? Can they still come up with the energy that made previous album You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine such an essential listen? All these thoughts quickly vanished as opener “Turn It Out” kicked into gear and incited the eager crowd so that survival became the main priority for most.
There is no subtlety at play here. Everyone is here for the riffs, and riffs are what they get. The setup is simple – just a drummer and a bassist, no fat – and this ethos extends to the song writing too – simple ideas executed with massive blunt force.
The crowd was just as up for the trio of Physical World songs that followed “Turn It Out” – in particular “Right On, Frankenstein!” which generated a particularly explosive circle pit during its huge outro. A particularly breathless rendition of “You’re A Woman, I’m a Machine” left the crowd for dead just five songs in and a welcome change of pace was provided as bassist Jesse F. Keeler switched to keys for “Go Home, Get Down”. We didn’t go home but we certainly got down as the less brutal, groovier “White Is Red” and “Trainwreck 1979” appeared mid-set. It couldn’t last, though, and what followed was the blitzkrieg of “Dead Womb”, the only representative of their 2002 EP Heads Up, which kickstarted a 100mph charge towards the end of the main set.
The pace of the show can pose its own problems and songs such as “Gemini” and “Government Trash” flew past without showcasing their real substance. Though “Always On” provided a bombastic end to the main set, the thoughts of many seemed to be on catching their breath in the encore.
A revived crowd lapped up the duo’s return to the stage though, and “Cold War” was the perfect prelude to the night’s undisputed highlight. “Romantic Rights” was one of the iconic songs of the early-noughties dance-punk scene and Death From Above have no qualms playing up to its reputation, slowly teasing its scratch intro and whipping the place into a frenzy by repeating the chorus ad infinitum.
The intensity the band delivered and the pure primal energy created in the Academy that night was never short of thrilling. The crowd may have felt like a fight to the death, but I’ve never felt more alive.
Image credit: goldenplec.com