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Philadelphia punk-rockers The Menzingers have boasted a die-hard following long before the release of last year’s acclaimed Hello Exile, an album that saw them take a gentle step away from the rousing punk of their five previous full-lengths in favour of the Americana infused storytelling of Springsteen and his ilk. Tonight’s show, which sees them sell out North London’s O2 Forum, proves that they have lost none of their on-stage force – comfortably between emotive and jubilant – met by their ever-passionate fanbase.
Joined on the bill by fellow Philly punks Spanish Love Songs and Mannequin Pussy, both of whom are riding the waves of brilliant recent album releases, tonight unfolds as a celebration of the city’s musical heritage. Philadelphia has long been heralded as the home of the emo revival, a spring of underground bands reinventing the genre having emerged from the city’s house shows and claimed global success. Acquiring the heart of the emo scene and injecting it with a healthy dose of upbeat punk, all three simultaneously showcase the diversity of Philadelphia’s exports.
Mannequin Pussy, led by the incredibly enigmatic Marisa Dabice, combine hardcore with melodic punk, gliding from the heartbreak of standout Drunk II to the ferocious F.U.C.A.W. in an opening set that could easily go down as one of the most unmissable in recent memory. Spanish Love Songs follow with their emotive take on punk rock, more akin to tonight’s headliners and easily as accomplished. Tracks from this year’s Brave Faces Everyone are met with raised voices across the already packed room.
Yet the night belongs to The Menzingers, who launch onto stage with Hello Exile lead single Anna for the last performance of their UK tour. As has become typical for their live shows, the energy levels start at ten and never drop, ploughing through a rapturous 21 song setlist spanning their decade-plus career. The band are adept at pairing a true party atmosphere with their honest, heartfelt lyrics, from the socially charged America (You’re Freaking Me Out) to the self-deprecating I Don’t Wanna Be An A**hole Anymore and early highlight The Obituaries – one of the evening’s many euphoric singalong moments.
It is this that The Menzingers do best, allowing for a collective catharsis. Throughout their career the band have tapped into the frustrations and insecurities of their ever-growing fan base, providing an unapologetic outlet through both celebration and unfiltered introspection. It’s a party and a half with heart.
The Menzingers return to the UK to take to Download Festival this June. Find tickets at Ticketmaster.co.uk.