Refused reformed. “Waaaaah, they said they’d never, ever, ever get back together,” you moaned. “Waaaaah, if you’d gone to see them the first time round, your opinion might be valid,” we replied. Yeah, the Swedish punk legends were criminally under-appreciated back in the last century. They’re finally on the pedestal they deserve to be on these days so, ahead of their Main Stage appearance at Download Festival 2012, let’s have a look at how good their New York City return was.
Six things we learned when we saw Refused play in NYC for the first time in over a decade
1) A band can reunite and sound better live than they did the first go around. Maybe it’s the mutual maturation or the individual musical experiences each member has had since The Shape of Punk to Come was released in 1998. More likely, the band already had improved their live performance in other bands since writing the mother of all hardcore punk albums but never got a chance to show the world because they never really toured on it.
2) The Shape of Punk to Come really was the shape of punk to come, but it never really came. The single disappointing aspect of the album is that punk rock never really did end up sounding more like Refused. Then again, while their ideals have coursed through many a band’s mantra, having formed such a distinctive and influential sound, could Refused ever be replicated sonically? You’d need a PhD in philosophy to ponder that mindfuck of a concept.
3) No matter who is playing there always has to be at least one fight at a hardcore show in NYC. It seems the tensions run high when the punk people of yesteryear and the kids who found out about Refused yesterday have to share space for an evening. In line with other punk and hardcore reunions, this is a regular phenomenon. Still, the issue between the old school and the n00bs will remain. Whose fault is it that Refused split up in the first place though? The original fans for not supporting them enough or the newcomers who didn’t hear about Refused ’til they heard ‘New Noise’ in a rock club?
4) American Nightmare (Give Up The Ghost) – the other big hardcore reunion from 2011 – had nothing on this. From the quality of the performance to the production of the event as a whole, the Refused reunion is leaps and bounds beyond AN’s. Unlike the cacophony in Revere, MA, the sound here is absolutely impeccable.
5) Dennis Lyxzén is still one of the best frontmen in hardcore. This man can dance and, somehow, it’s not lame at all. In a genre nowadays full of cookie cutter singers who perform the verse then point the mic toward the crowd for the choruses, and are more of a human microphone stand than a lead vocalist, Lyxzén is a fucking firecracker and a true entertainer. His passion further fuelled a crowd already stoked beyond belief just to be there. It’s one of the qualities that raises a band from great to legendary.
6) A band that has become so many musicians’ heroes still honors its own heroes. After heaping praise upon Sick of It All and other assorted New York City hardcore bands, Lou Koller (lead vocalist of Sick of It All) was asked to join the band on stage to perform some SOIA songs. No complaints.
Refused @ NYC Terminal 5 setlist
Worms of The Senses / Faculties of the Skull
The Refused Party Program
Rather Be Dead
Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine
The Deadly Rhythm
Hook Line and Sinker
Refused Are Fucking Dead
Life Support Addiction
It’s Clobberin’ Time (SOIA)
Injustice System (SOIA)
The Shape of Punk to Come
Tannhäuser / Derivè