Japandroids have been flirting pretty extensively with our shores since the release of their second album Celebration Rock over a year ago, and we’re not the only object of their affections. They’ve played around 150 shows in that time. Thinking about that number, it’s difficult to ascertain whether that’s incredible, or incredibly foolish. Even the most back catalogue laden of legends would be forgiven for struggling to keep things interesting. But not these boys. Their wonderfully chaotic approach means that no two shows are the same and tonight, well things feels extra chaotic.
Post-Nothing wasn’t exactly renowned for its high production values, Celebration Rock stepped things up a gear in that department but none of that seems to matter this evening. A slack-jawed version of ‘Rockers East Vancouver’ follows the typically anthemic, nostalgia stirring, defiant yet utterly mournful howls of “Give me that night you were already in bed / Said fuck it got up to drink with me instead” from ‘Younger Us.’ Everything is a bit messy. Brian King and David Prowse own it though, the words “I’m enjoying the informal nature of this show” escaping King’s panting, nearly breathless lungs after a particularly frenzied rendition of ‘The Nights of Wine and Roses’.
‘Continuous Thunder’ sparks a mosh pit of epically defiant proportions whilst security guards seem strangely absent! Condensation drips into my glass. I could literally have tasted the sweat. I didn’t. Soon slight disgust turns to intrigue as Brian cries “This feels like a special show so we’re going to play a special song. We play it maybe once every fifty shows. Sorry if it’s sloppy but fuck it, this will be our last time in London for quite some time so we thought why not.” An epic riff emerges from the mass of distorting, it’s extended intro raising cheers as fans recognise what is coming at different points in time. ‘I Quit Girls’ – yes this was one of those shows where they actually played ‘I Quit Girls’ – is nothing short of epic. And even though Brian is so exhausted he is basically no longer singing, more reciting lyrics, it doesn’t matter.
The only thing that can top this is tonight’s take on ‘The House That Heaven Built’. “Anything goes during this song. We’ve got permission from the house. You’ve all passed go. You all get to collect 200 dollars” King yells, before once more the lower levels of the low ceiling venue explode in a fury of flailing limbs and crowd surfers.’For the Love of Ivy’ caps things off and an already extended running time cuts short any hopes of an encore.
It’s reckless, relentless, intense, triumphant and yet somehow, probably the most fun Japandroids show we’ve witnessed, probably because this is most fun we’ve seen King and Prowse have on stage. The pair are happy to let things happen: Mistakes are shrugged off, teeth exposed through wide grins as it becomes clear they’re just looking for one last blow out before heading back to Canada for some well earned down time.
Photo by Valerio Berdini