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New Model Army had to overcome hard times in the past 24 months. At first ex-drummer and once companion Robert Heaton died of cancer last year then long-time guitarist Dave Blomberg surprisingly left the band after finishing the recordings for their new album “Carnival”. After his solo project mastermind Justin Sullivan had to make some important decisions and therefore he got Marshall Gill as the new wizard of strings on board.
The English alternative rock circus is travelling about our regions again and New Model Army do what they do best: Be on stage.
The interest in dark Irish-folk-punk of New Model Army is unbroken; in any case the fivesome from Bradford can rely on their true fans.
At that Wednesday evening the Centralstation in Darmstadt is with 1050 people completely sold out. At first, the weirdo-funk-band Honigdieb warms the crowd up. With transverse flute, violin and German lyrics they prepare the musical ground for an entertaining evening. It sounds very fresh and individual but then again a bit too chaotic compared to the minor-tone orientated alternative rock of New Model Army. Stylistically, it’s not really congruent with the main act but an interesting experiment.
Finally, the hour strikes. The stage is wrapped in an eerie violet. New Model Army start their set with the song “Whirlwind”. Soon it becomes apparent that it doesn’t have to be a Saturday evening to get a larking and dancing crowd. A cheerful Justin Sullivan sings as usual with a powerful voice. By this time, New Model Army already have 25 years and countless shows in the bag; albeit they don’t sound in any way obsolete. Then the band pushes forward with the songs “Believe It”, “Water” and “Fate”. There’s a special energy building up and you let on the sociocritical Brits that they still have a lot of fun to have a big party with their fans in the spotlight.
The fans got to hear quite a few songs from the new record „Carnival“, amongst them the fairly well written pieces “Carlisle Road”, “Red Earth” and “Another Imperial Day”. The second last studio album “Eight” was almost completely disregarded, though. New Model Army played like if they were freed of a heavy load, which probably was because of the fresh blood in the band with the new musician Marshall Gill.
They displayed a great joy in playing, there’s a good chemistry between the band and the crowd in Darmstadt.
The biggest cheers went through the audience when Sullivan and his cohorts started to play “51st State”. They played over 2 hours and indulged their followers in 3 encores. “I’m thrilled”, says Susanne Rosenberger (34) from Frankfurt who was on more than 30 concerts of New Model Army afterwards. “They played all my favourite songs. The new guitarist acquits himself very well; tonight I could finally get a picture of that.” In summary: New Model Army are still hungry and offer no bulk product.
The staying in the league is achieved.
Christian Hoffmann, translation: Kathleen Gransalke