Refused @ Stylus Leeds UniversityPosted by vibrations on 09-04-16
Considering that the seminal album, ‘The Shape of Punk to Come’ is almost 20 years old, it’s safe to say that Swedish hardcore band Refused still retain all of the characteristic vim and vigour that has brought their live shows such accolade over the years. Having started life 25 years ago and following well-documented inter-band conflict, Refused have returned to play their first show in Leeds since the heady days of 1998.
Stylus is on particularly good form tonight; the thousand capacity venue is almost full, and the sound is clear as a bell as the band take to the stage with the raucously energetic ‘Elektra.’ Singer Dennis Lyxzen is charismatic and full of rousing, political fist-in-the-air dogma, championing leftist ideologies from anti-capitalism to feminism. Nevertheless, his banter is balanced with plenty of humour, peppered with anecdotal quips; “My pants are so tight that it stops the blood-flow to my brain and gibberish comes out!”
Lyxzen’s waxing lyrical aside, his performance is energetic, full of Jagger-esque dance moves and poses. Vocally he’s bang on point, effortlessly translating his trademark combination of melody and venomous anger into the live arena, a feat not always so easily achieved by hardcore vocalists.
For all of the frontman’s charm though, it’s drummer David Sandstrom who drives the sound, playing like an animal, leaving you thinking that he desperately wants to hurt the kit. Guitarists Kristofer Steen and Mattias Barjed with bassist Magnus Flagge complete the quintet to form a profoundly solid backline. They are definitely a band who almost twenty-five years on, still believe in what they are doing, and love it.
Highlights of the evening include ‘Rather be Dead’; where Lyxzen gets into the crowd, climbs through the disabled lift and crowd surfs his way back on stage, much to the frenzied delight of the audience. The encore is a big finish, dedicated to Refused’s revenge on Leeds, following their last gig in the city in 1998 which they declare no-one liked. Gnarly ‘Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine’, and floorfiller ‘New Noise’ have the floor open up into a chasmic mosh pit, and the night is polished off with the skulking ‘Tannhauser / Derive’. We’re sent off into the night with immortal words from Dennis Lxyzen - “it’s good to be part of something other than the bullsh*t out there…”.
Review by Katharine Hartley