A Night to Remember
Two down, three to go: Hard-Fi celebrated their amazing success since the re-issuing and updating of the mini album 'Stars of CCTV' last summer, with a gig that was more than just the average. We were promised "surprises" and they definitely delivered.
The night was kicked into action with a fantastic warm up from the legend Billy Bragg, this wasn't one of the surprises by the way as he's playing at all five nights at Brixton Academy. He got the crowd's vocal chords well and truly warmed up with the classic 'New England' asking them to "sing this one for Kirsty McColl". Following this was a four-deck DJ routine from Wrongton which featured classic tracks from New Order, Donna Summer and PIL, and then it was the main event!
Hard-Fi took to the stage, opening with 'Middle Eastern Holiday' complete with footage from news coverage of Iraq as a backdrop. 'Gotta Reason' followed before the first of two new tracks,'Suburban Knights'. The first of what seemed like an almost endless stream of sing-along moments was next for 'Tied Up Too Tight'.
The second and stronger of the new tracks followed shortly after; 'You And Me' isn't an amazing departure from what you might expect, but it does suggest that when the new album does arrive we will be treated to a more focused rock sound.
'Better Do Better' and 'Cash Machine', the latter proceeded by the words "your request is being processed" on the screen, were separated by a fantastic cover of the Big Audio Dynamite classic 'E=MC2'. A surprise this was, but there surely had to be more to come we thought.
Unsurprisingly the biggest sing-along moment of the gig so far was reserved for 'Hard to Beat', after which the band left the stage, Richard Archer returning to start the encore with a one man performance of 'Move On Now'. An organ was then wheeled on and Archer told the crowd:
"We're from a small town called Staines, and down the road is a Town Called Malice. Brixton raise the roof for Paul Weller!!!" – it would have been rude of us not to have done so.
The roar which greeted the end of the Modfather's performance was like that which a football crowd would celebrate the lifting of the FA Cup. Bands, often from the north, grumble about the below par crowd reaction they get in London. If any who'd knocked music fans in this city had been there last night (15th May) they'd definitely have had their minds changed.
Weller helped out on 'Stars of CCTV' again another stunning crowd response, and it was left for 'Living For The Weekend' to bring the show to its close.
Although they've been around less than two years, this should go down as the career-defining week so far for Hard-Fi. All nights at Brixton sold out almost instantly; they have legends in their own right supporting and making guest appearances and a crowd that is as fanatical as any I've seen.
The band's summer commitments include a gig in Millennium Square in Leeds, as well as Newcastle's Orange Evolution and the Hi:Fi Festival, T in the Park and V. They're a band riding on the crest of a wave and although the album has been out for what seems like years, it still isn't sounding tired. You can do so much worse than see them play.