Cancer Bats
Thursday 7 May 2009
Underworld, Camden
Support: This Is a Standoff + The Plight + SSS

?Sold Out. A word meaning that we have no more tickets to sell, there is no chance of entry, and that you will not gain entry unless you have a ticket.? So reads the Underworld?s box office. No doubt about it, this is a hot ticket. Not quite as hot as The Specials playing across town, but hot none the less. And so it should be. Forget second home, since 2006 Cancer Bats have pretty much made the UK a first home. Tour after tour wields a way across the country and with each new show the profile of the band continues to rise. As does the bar being set.

By the time this slightly delayed reviewer makes it through the door SSS is well on the way to a storming set. The Liverpudlian quartet is all short sharp spikes of hardcore, spearheaded by singer Foxy who doesn?t seem to stop for anything. A bit like the band itself really. ?3:06?, focusing on the Hillsborough disaster, proves to be particularly poignant following last month?s 20 year anniversary, and attests that hardcore bands can have something to say. (3/5)

The Plight is more Bronx than Minor Threat, and leaps and bounds ahead of so many peers. Tonight frontman Al is literally all leaps and bounds and not too far from clobbering his head on the ceiling. All this energy pays off as the crowd decides to pipe-in with an assault of moshing that compliments the hard-edged rock on offer here. (4)

It can?t be easy being the outsider on a tour bill that has already clocked-up two weeks of road time. Unfortunately the crowd isn?t about to give This Is a Standoff the benefit of the doubt either. It?s a shame because the Calgary quartet puts in a seriously tight set of melodic punk-rock made up of near equal parts debut record ?Be Excited? and the latest, ?Be Disappointed?. There?s a smidgen of folk excited, but the partisan crowd is mostly disappointed. Still, onstage the band is impressive and well worth checking out down the line. (3)

This is a tour that only came about because Swedish death metallers In Flames pulled the plug on an original trek that would have seen Cancer Bats in a supporting role. Rather than resting on laurels, the band packed a toothbrush and hit the road proceeding to lay waste to everything in sight, headliner style. Tonight?s waste-laying sees 60 solid minutes of rugged, forceful hardcore metal hurled at a frenzied horde. The tar-pit of bodies swallows each and every crowd surfer and stage diver that comes its way, before spitting them out in a fury of head-banging. It?s a mass of horns, high-fives and pounding fists in the air.

There?s a real end of tour party atmosphere about tonight?s, well, end of tour show. The ?guest? alcove is so oversubscribed that a string of VIP?s are stood directly behind drummer Mike Peters. Guest vocalists are aplenty, including Radio 1 Rock Show maestro and Hexes frontman Daniel P Carter flexing his verbal muscle. Stage invaders are common, and road crew busy, busy, busy. It?s all a bit messy. But in a good way, you understand?

The band is brutal. Simple as. It?s the metal roots that show through as the Toronto quintet belts out a mix of tracks from both full lengths, ?Birthing the Giant? and ?Hail Destroyer?. The eponymous track from the latter is such a bruiser that you can?t help but suspect more than a few punters are going to wake up with a sore neck to go along with some ringing ears tomorrow. There?s only one new offering in the set but nobody?s going to begrudge the band the opportunity to really thrash out what is almost a ?thanks for being there from the beginning? type gift to the fans. All in all it?s a superb display of just how good Cancer Bats are. Big, powerful and worth every single second of your attention. Hail destroyer, indeed. (5)

Alex Hambleton