New Model Army - Forum London
Cult UK rockers New Model Army have now been together in one form or another for almost 30 years. The band have released eleven studio albums in that time and a host of singles, EP's, live albums and compilations. I first became aware of the band around the time of their Vengeance collection around 1984 but don't think I saw them live until they toured their third album The Ghost of Cain sometime around 1986/7. I managed to catch numerous NMA gigs around the UK throughout the rest of the 80's and early 90's, with my last show around 1992.
Nearly two decades have passed since then but I've still kept an eye on what the band were up to, at least studio wise, in the years that have followed - even picking up lead singer Justin Sullivan's 2003 solo album Navigating by the Stars.
New Model Army have been playing annual Christmas shows in the capital for the last few years, shows that I've been meaning to attend but never got round to. So I finally pulled my finger out and decided to view their 2009 performance at London's Forum.
The band have recently released their latest studio album Today is a Good Day and a quick Spotify search brought up the album in question, preparing me nicely for the Kentish Town show. I also searched online for set lists, noticing that recent gigs had been 'new album heavy' so I was glad that Today... was surprisingly good, with at least three stand out tracks on first listen.
New Model Army had pulled in a decent sized crowd for the event, with numerous NMA T shirts on display and the largest collection of painted leather jackets I've seen in a few years! The band kicked off proceedings with new track "States Radio", pulling out a couple of oldies straight after with Impurity's "Get Me Out" and "The Charge" from the White Coats EP coming next.
Normally when photographing bands in larger venues you're asked to leave the photo pit after the third song. However, there was no such rule in place for the NMA gig so the handful of photographers attending got to take in the show from the best seats in the house! Although it was wonderful having the opportunity it can feel at tiny bit awkward at times when you're sitting so close when not shooting. You try to keep a professional demeanor but you can't help singing along at times. I certainly wasn't the only photographer enjoying themselves though as there were numerous bobbing heads throughout the performance!
The band are renowned for having an extremely faithful following and it's obvious the band appreciate this, with Justin gesturing to the Forum's easy going security team to let their fans sit or stand on each others shoulders throughout the set. There was a very good atmosphere for the gig's duration, with fans going mental to tracks both old and new.
The recent additions to NMA's set were all worthy of inclusion, with the title track celebrating Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and Wall Street collapsing "Today is a good day" a show standout. "Mambo Queen of the Sandstone City" and "Autumn" were also set highlights, delivering anthemic choruses with the aggression and passion that the band have maintained throughout the years, especially "Autumn" with it's hugely catchy "Everything is beautiful, Because everything is dying" refrain.
Touring such a strong album the band didn't need to delve into their back catalogue too much to give their fans satisfaction but there were a few choice classics on offer, including "Lurhstaap", a stunning version of "White Coats" and an encore singalong of "51st State" with the audience doing most of the work!
The set ended with Thunder and Consolation's "I Love the World", a fitting climax to the show coming in the same week as the Global Climate Summit. I was extremely impressed by the evening's show and was left wondering why it had taken me so long to see the band again as they delivered each track with the energy and passion they've always had.
It would have been nice to hear my two NMA faves - "Green and Gray" and "Poison Street" as both songs received an airing elsewhere in recent days but I was more than happy with what was on display. New Model Army are promising some interesting set lists for their 30th anniversary celebrations next year so I just might return to see them one more time! ...
New Model Army Gallery