NEW CHRISTS
+ LOS ESPIRITUOSOS
Gruta 77
Madrid, Spain
May 17, 2008

By PETE CRAVEN

With no UK date on the New Christs 2008 Euro-tour itinerary, a quick scan of the schedule was required to arrange a rendezvous on the mainland. My brother Tom signed up for the mission, and a trip to Madrid was cobbled together… let’s rock!

I’ve not been to Gruta ’77 before, its a few kilometres south-west of the city centre, and proved to be a tidy little venue with a compact tall stage… a bit like the Richmond Hotel, Brighton many moons ago.

Local act Los Espirituosos were the warm up act, a tight five-piece that, a few numbers in, my brother observed would sound okay on a Tarantino soundtrack, with their grooving retro-rock 'n' roll that had a bit of a ‘lounge’ feel to it. I wasn’t too into the slower numbers, and if anything they peaked a bit early with a cracking number that saw the lead guitarist laying down some fancy fretwork. It was all a bit hit ‘n' miss for me after that.

More cold beers, more hot jams on the stereo, and then about 1.30am The New Christs hit the stage… with rapturous applause from the crowd when Rob Younger emerged from the shadows. A slight grin, an acknowledgement and thanks, and then it’s on with the show… and “I Swear” kicks in, great song from one of the band's most productive periods… next stop “Woe Betide”… and then all aboard for “Burning of Rome”, a momentous cut from the wonderful debut album “Distemper” and a staple of the New Christs live set for the past couple of decades. How’s that for staying power, ha!

There’s a great moment towards the end of the song when Rob throws in some lines from The Stranglers “No More Heroes”… “All the Shakespearoes... They watched their Rome burn”… nice touch, and a big thumbs up from the Craven Boys as The Stranglers were one of our favourite bands way back when.

There’s a few tracks from the most recent album “We Got This”, including the rocking “On Top of Me”, plus “We Have Landed” and the pneumatic “Party Time” from “Lower Yourself”, Love’s “She Comes in Colours” from the “Pedestal” 10” and the ever reliable three chord punk romp “Coming Apart”, another Distemper” standard. We also get some new unnamed material; a slower very psychedelic song with lots of whirling keyboards, but the stick out was a chunky rocker that had a chorus we were convinced sounded like “We’re a Dance Band”. Reach for the lasers Rob! I think that song closed the main set…

Much noise from the crowd, banging of beer bottles on the stage, and the band plugged back in for more… and what a treat – opening up with The Sunsets “Hot Generation”. I got hip to this song when it was covered by The Celibate Rifles, and then picked up the original ’67 version on one of the “Before the Birdmen Flew” compilations. It’s a brilliant number, a genuine Sixties surf punk stomper, and the New Christs version is spot on. Here’s hoping it gets committed to vinyl.

Now, the beers were kicking in, and the old brain cells don’t retain what they used to, but there’s a possibility that they followed this with the snarling burning angst that is “Pedestal”… and I know for sure that the volcanic “Black Hole” finished things off, with a salvo of dual guitar feedback, and – like a rock in the centre – bass master general Jim Dickson holding it all together on the six string.

So there ya go, the New Christs rocking our world in Madrid. It was a long way to come for a gig, but this bands music has been the soundtrack to our lives for nigh on 24 years, means a lot to us… “we ignore responsibility, and people who just can’t see”…



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