It seems rarer and rarer these days to witness bands reach certain milestones and be anything as good as they once were when the started out with a love for what they do, many bands love for writing fades with the need to put out records to keep the labels happy, others end up with the struggle with the love for each other with constant pressure on each other to work as a cohesive unit, but then you get those that seem to take it in their stride and deliver the goods time and time again. Neurosis is such a band, celebrating 30 years with a catalogue of releases that flow and work beautifully. Their style of writing isn’t as much trying to write something they want, more they are a vessel of which the music writes itself. Their way of channeling music has brought them so far with what seems like relative ease, the simplistic love of music is what has kept them so strong and cohesive as a live band that it is truly a sight to behold. So when such a band is looking to mark an anniversary such as three decades, it is done in true style at only the finest of venues.
Tuesday night saw the second of a two night performance at the Koko, London. The venue is among the finest you could ever wish to see a band in, and no doubt those in attendance on the Monday had witnessed a treat that is worthy of the Gods. We ourselves were lucky enough to join the magical journey of Neurosis anniversary shows on the second night, as If just that alone was not enough to shake away the troubles in the world that day, Neurosis had punk bands Subhumans and the legendary Discharge to warm the crowd up for them.
As we enter the historic theatre, the energy is already high and the static in the air was a buzz in itself, moments away from the start of a special night. Subhumans may have started back in 1980, but the punk energy they provide shows age means nothing, and before they even start punters in the crowd are cheering with one even screaming out lyrics from a track of theirs. While the band smash through track after track with a euphoric response of the crowd, vocalist Dick Lucas owns and uses every square inch of the stage, his interaction with the crowd is almost enough to put Napalm Deaths Barney to shame. The reaction of everyone would make you believe they were the headline act if you didn’t know any better.
Next out the block were Discharge, these guys need no introduction. The amount of bands these guys have influenced as a whole is beyond ridiculous. Their hardcore-punk beginnings in 1977 has seen them covered by bands of thrash, doom, death, grind metal genres to name but a few. Their assault of the senses was something to behold, relentless, unforgiven, true to the hardcore-punk nature of the band. If Neurosis’ Steve Von Till was sat side of stage grinning through the devilish beard for Subhumans, then he definitely was now as at times you could see him almost struggle to sit still through the set. Discharge have had a huge variety in their line up, but this current line up of the past couple of years puts on one of the best performances you are ever likely to see, smashing through tracks both long and short, they turn the Koko into a sweat box getting the crowd to use every bit of energy it can muster. Smashing through their set, it goes by in the blink of an eye, a sad thing to see them leave the stage, but a much needed break to gather ourselves for the whole reason any of us are here.
Down come the lights, hairs on the backs of necks begin to rise, and slowly through the shadows, we are able to make out those behind the genius of Neurosis. Gentle starts the set before the destruction of ear drums with ‘Lost’, they seamlessly intertwine through the set list of tonight's show, with less than half of the songs being played the previous night. The sheer presence of the band is foreboding, as they let the music do the talking and keep interaction with the crowd minimal. The depth and strength of the music lives up to their hype of merely being lucky enough to channel it rather than write it. It is the way it should be and brings such a crushing heaviness that has the Koko vibrate through every part of it. Such is the immense power; it would make even the strictest of nun’s loins quiver. ‘Distill (Watching the Swarm)’, ‘At the End of the Road’ and ‘Bending Light’ all make an appearance and leave a thirst for more than is truly unquenchable. These guys may have moved past their hardcore punk roots, but what they have developed into and still provide us with today is almost beyond words. Neurosis, take a bow, in a word so oversaturated with bands that need to call it a day and bands that shouldn’t even be. You are one of few bands worthy of such hitting such a milestone and we certainly hope you are around for a lot longer.