Hard-Fi at Troxy
After a decade-long hiatus, indie rock band Hard-Fi have made their comeback, much to the joy of their devoted fan base. For the past month, they’ve travelled around the country to bring their nostalgia-infused, frill-free sound – new and “old” – to various venues across England and Scotland, with London’s Troxy as the final stop: another sold-out show.
The space soon fills with palpable anticipation. It is clear even before Hard-Fi come on stage that the band and the audience share a deep mutual affection, and they have both missed each other. Throughout the concert, frontman Richard Archer expresses his gratitude for the unwavering support of their fans, who respond with the excitement of nostalgia-hungry, now-older teenagers.
They kick things off with Middle Eastern Holiday: with the band being openly anti-war, the lyrics seem to juxtapose the image of a young adult dreaming of going on holiday to a warm, beautiful country, and that of a young adult going to war in said country. It also creates a contrast between those who experience war first-hand, and those in power who watch from afar while making the decisions.
The band, originally from Staines, England, formed during a peculiar time in our history. It was the mid-noughties, the world was being thrown into fear, and ears were hungry for that raw, guitar-driven, Britpop sound. Many youngsters were, in fact, channelling all their anger and frustration into music – and they were having a lot of fun with it too.
Hard-Fi did exactly that: they made the music they wanted to make, incorporating elements of punk and post-punk, while also not shying away from political and social commentary. Their first album, Stars of CCTV, sold over a million copies. Interestingly, while they soon felt like outsiders in a music scene that was changing too rapidly, the album is now more relevant than ever.
The iconic hit Cash Machine is one of the highlights: it is pure delight to watch an entire crowd – most of whom are former noughties kids accompanied by their children – completely let loose. One could imagine them going back to the hazy afternoons spent blasting Hard-Fi in their bedrooms; the world might have been falling apart, but music helped one make sense of it all, keeping the pieces together. And once again, the lyrics are far from shallow: the catchy song perfectly captures the everyday struggles and frustrations of working-class existence, feeling crushed under the hand of capitalism, with no prospects, while desiring more from life.
Halfway through the concert, the band performs a song that Archer says was never played on tour before, and another highlight: the deeply emotional Watch Me Fall Apart, from their 2007 second studio album, Once Upon a Time in the West. If the frenetic and loud Cash Machine makes people dance, scream and throw their hands in the air, this makes for a more introspective moment. Archer also announces a special guest: Bruce Breakey from Good Health Good Wealth joins them on stage, with his rapping adding to the overall performance. The dynamic arrangement, building in intensity, combined with the rap, perfectly mirrors the journey narrated in the lyrics: an all-too-relatable story of crippling self-doubt, intoxicating success and desire for redemption.
Overall, Hard-Fi deliver an energetic, entertaining performance. They are living proof that UK audiences will always have an appetite – and ear – for some sincere, raw, indie rock, especially if combined with irreverence and multi-layered lyrics.
Photos: Miguel de Melo
For further information and future events visit Hard-Fi at Troxy’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Cash Machine here: