Fucked Up are everything and nothing that you might expect a Canadian hardcore band with a name too rude for radio to be. They are loud, aggressive, confrontational, politically strident and loud. But they are also delightful, thanks mostly to their gregarious frontman, Damian Abraham. He catapults himself on to the stage with a leonine roar, then launches himself straight off again: if this raised platform represents social hierarchies, he's having none of it. From then on he roves among the crowd, screeching in faces in a voice so rough barely 3% of what he sings is comprehensible. Even at a safe distance, it's exhilarating.
He's so magnetic, the rest of the band struggle for attention – but they get it, because hidden within each taut, grinding thrash of a song is a nugget of golden sweetness. One of the three guitarists will spiral off into a coruscating riff; or Ben Cook will join in on backing vocals, his voice powerpop cute. It's this playfulness that makes Fucked Up and tonight's joint headliners, Titus Andronicus, so complementary: all the belligerent force of hardcore is impacted in their music, but so is a love of ineffable melody that softens their abrasiveness.
Of the two bands, it's Titus Andronicus who most effectively convey the intricate shape-shifting of their recorded music. A More Perfect Union begins with a squall of guitar pinned down by Eric Harm's solid drumming, but with every verse twists to introduce a gleaming, eloquent riff. The Battle of Hampton Roads lurches in rollercoaster arcs beneath frontman Patrick Stickles' inchoate excoriation of social disorder, before erupting into a militaristic gallop. It's typical of Stickles' self-deprecating demeanour that he ends on a note of hangdog reassurance: "Rock'n'roll is worthwhile," he declares – but at this gig, it's much, much more.
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