New Model Army - The Forum, London
With over 30 years in the business you’d be inclined to think that New Model Army’s best work was behind them. But the band - still fronted by Justin Sullivan - seem reinvigorated in the last five years or so, releasing a pair of albums in the shape of Today Is A Good Day and Between Dog And Wolf, bodies of work that would give their classic 80s albums a run for their money.
Not content with dropping a pair of fine albums, the post-punk rockers have recorded a few more tracks to go with their most recent work, with six new songs appearing as part of a two disc set entitled Between Wine And Blood, with the second album comprised of live tracks from the “Wolf” period. NMA have taken to the road to promote the collection, with their Forum headline show the first in a short run of Christmas gigs. One thing a lengthy career gives you is the ability to really vary your set each tour and you never quite know what to expect from the band. Chances are you’ll never encounter all your favorites when seeing them live, but you’ll never come away short changed!
The Forum set was split in two for no real apparent reason, as there wasn’t a major shift in the type of songs on display, with both sets sharing the more reflective side of the band’s personality alongside their more aggressive repertoire. The second set did include a string section though, featuring NMA stalwart Ed Alleyne-Johnson who shone especially on ‘Vagabonds’. Ed wasn't the only 'extra' Army member to appear, as Mark Feltham also took to the stage to play harmonica on a couple of songs, including a phenomenal 'Poison Street'.
The 'Dog' and 'Wine' tracks came across extremely well live, with the drum-heavy songs taking things up a notch. New material standouts included opener 'Guessing', 'Stormclouds', 'Between Dog And Wolf' and 'Knievel'. Older songs like 'Christian Militia' (with the intro a real goosebumps moment), 'No Rest' and encore closer 'Green And Grey' were all fantastic to hear, but I think my night was made with the appearance of '1984', what seemed to be a rare outing for the beautiful 'Ballad' and 'A Liberal Education', with each track making the evening very special indeed.