Live Evil: Refused At The Forum Reviewed
This week revived Swedish hardcore act Refused played two nights at the HMV Forum in London’s Kentish Town, so we sent Stephen Hill to see if they’ve still got it (spoiler: they have).
Fifteen years after they split up, with very little fanfare, the seed that Refused planted back in the late 90′s has finally bloomed. Slowly but surely their legend has swelled to the point where they return, not to 30 people in Stoke with their backs to them or being told that they look like The Beatles by a group of pissed off punks at the Fuck Reading Festival as they did on their last visit, but to two sold out nights at The Kentish Town Forum.
Over those two nights they play a set that is as close to perfection as Punk Rock can be. Having seen reformations before that are clearly more to do with financial gain than a desire to re-connect with music this is more than just a relief, it’s a triumphant rising from the ashes that even Anvil would struggle to pull off.
Of course passion and anticipation are worth nothing if you don’t have the tunes to back it up, and its amazing to hear songs like Worms Of The Senses, the slow burning Liberation Frequencies, the riff heavy guitar hero stomp of Refused Are Fucking Dead and the mangled beatdown of Rather Be Dead whilst contemplating that they were composed in a different millennium. Sounding, as they do, so far ahead of what ninety nine per cent of Hardcore bands today could even comprehend.
When the song that started it all for most people, New Noise, is aired at the beginning of their encore the entire venue turns into total bedlam and Lyxen’s opening “can I scream” lyric is sung back to him with such ferocity it can probably be heard back in their native Umea. It is, to be quite frank, a spine tingling, life affirming moment. They leave looking as overwhelmed by the reaction as the crowd are by their set. It’s a transient moment, audience and performer connected as one in the sheer joy and power of music.
It seems pointless, insulting even, to compare Refused with mere current Hardcore bands. They belong in a different category, with Rage Against The Machine, Bob Marley, The MC5, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. Leaders, revolutionaries. Refused are Bill Hicks to Metal-core’s Michael McIntyre, The Dark Knight to Emo’s Batman and Robin. Fifteen years of waiting and still they play to the new beat.