I knew very little about the New Model Army before this gig. They have never been on my radar, not in the '80s (I was listening to Bon Jovi) or now (I'm still listening to Bon Jovi) however I was dragged along by a friend who is a fan and promised me a good show. It was an early start as they had announced that they would be playing two sets. Great. A band I knew nothing about playing 3 hours of songs I didn't know. It was going to be a long night.
When we wandered in to the Forum the first thing to notice was the length of the cloakroom queue. It had doubled back on itself...not very rock n' roll. Surely NMA fans weren't going to be boring? The next thing I noticed was the lack of people in the standing area...but of course...they were all in the cloakroom queue. As a result we walked straight to the front of the Forum. I started to get slightly worried when twenty minutes later I turned round and saw lots of shirtless men had appeared behind me. What could it mean? I soon found out when Justin Sullivan walked on stage and launched into the excellent Guessing. The shirtless men, and everyone else for that matter, jumped as one. Then a mosh pit erupted. For the next 50 minutes the mosh pit didn't stop. Bloody marvelous.
The break between sets allowed me to get a pint and also get rid of my jacket (which was hanging by a thread at this stage tied round my waist). The second set started around 9pm with a change of pace in Ballad. By now we were at the back of the standing area (which was now rammed full) but gradually found ourselves sucked into the mosh pit again. As I said before...bloody marvelous.
I don't think one listen to their 1992 best of album, History gave me much clue as to what Justin and colleagues would play. I didn't recognise any songs but as it turned out that was good. I was blown away by their live performance and both new songs and old sounded good to me. I had no prior prejudice for any song, no love or hate of any track at all. All were equal and so the songs played from Between Wine and Blood stood up well against their older classics. Always a good sign.
The crowd really impressed me tonight. Not just the mosh pit but also there was an impressive amount of shoulder standing going on in. I have seen many people attempt to stand on the shoulders of others but never as many as here. I was told after that this is a common thing at NMA gigs. I have been at concerts by other bands where fans have attempted it but they usually ended in crashing disasters. Well it was fantastic to see it in all its glory here.
There were two encores (which seems to be a regular thing these days at any gig, some deserved, some not) with Green and Grey being the last song of the night. Just the 31 songs in total. I have no idea how this gig stands up with usual NMA gigs. What I do know is that I had a great time. Sometimes you need a good mosh pit and this is one of the best I have been in. Yet whenever anyone fell over there were people dragging them back up again. This was moshing with manners. This band were excellent but so were the fans.
Ticket: December 12th 2014
Ticket Price: £22.50