Make Do And Mend at Old Blue Last
It’s a baking hot evening in Shoreditch, but a sold-out crowd has nonetheless piled into the Old Blue Last’s hermetically sealed upstairs venue to submit themselves to the relentless racket of Make Do And Mend, a fiercely dedicated hardcore four-piece from Boston, MA.
They’re not even the evening’s headliners – sandwiched as they are between stirring sets from fellow headbangers Spy Catchers and Set Your Goals – but, last night 24th May 2012, from the first aural attack of Unknowingly Strong, they might as well be topping the bill at Wembley for all the unchecked fervour of their performance.
Front man James Carroll is a man whose every utterance needs to be transcribed in all-caps. Even when graciously lavishing praise on his tour mates or fans of the band old and new, Carroll sounds like a growling and seriously angry amalgam of Chino Moreno and Dave Grohl. He’s clearly utterly devoted to punk’s cathartic release, or else a very good method actor – either way it’s unnervingly impressive and he made it clear that “THERE’S A NEW RECORD OUT ON JUNE 19th”. Meanwhile new bassist Luke Schwartz provides the occasional burst of backing vocals while mugging for the crowd and guitarist Mike O’Toole offers some much-appreciated contrast with his sky-scraping riffs and the occasional solo.
All of which adds up to a rousing, catchy and impossibly loud half-hour set which seriously threatens to make the rest of the evening’s attractions redundant. Just when you think the band have dispensed every sonic weapon in their artillery – an impression which first occurs about four minutes in to the set – without fail they somehow leap to even louder plateau, effortlessly switching between tempos for maximum impact. The intensity never drops until trademark show-stopper Night’s The Only Time Of Day, dedicated to Set Your Goals.
Carroll introduces new single Lucky as about being “THE FOUR LUCKIEST GUYS IN THE WORLD TO BE STANDING UP HERE PLAYING FOR YOU”, and it’s this unabashed love of performing which endears Make Do And Mend to the usually stoic Shoreditch crowd, even when they start to wilt under the twin influences of heat and tinnitus. Although mainstream acceptance seems beyond Make Do And Mend (not everyone has a sound threshold as high as their current fan base), these dogged veterans of the hardcore circuit certainly made an impression at the Old Blue Last and won over plenty more new converts to their cause.
Watch Oak Square here