My Vitriol – 22/05/09- Southampton, The Joiners.
“It’s roughly been nine years since we last played small venues like this,” muses Som Wardner before their sold out Southampton Joiners gig. Boy, has time flown by. But since the 2001 release of ‘Finelines,’ the storm of British alternative scene in which My Vitriol were a part has abated. Once everywhere splashed across the music tabloids, bands such as Cay, Seafood, and Vex Red have now vanished into the ether like dissolving feedback, leaving a huge void in their wake. Tonight’s show, and the rest of their recent tour for that matter, will be a test to see if MV are still as relevant now as they were all those years ago.
Tonight, in the Southampton toilet, nobody gives a hoot about the warm up acts. Punters trickle in during Burn the Fleet, a five-piece hardcore act who beat their chests through a set emo infused thrash by numbers. There are enough bone-crunching breakdowns to even out the inevitable heart string pulling choruses, but the fact remains that this brand of faux emotional metal has passed its sell by date.
A further disappointment comes in the way of The X-certs, a clean-cut weedy trio who trudge through a set of ripped off Weezer songs which are neither warm nor catchy. Their drearily predictable quiet-loud format seems to drag on through a set of instantly forgettable pop throw-aways.
Come ten o’clock and the place is rammed. The temperature rises as bodies pile in for a decent vantage point of the wide berth platform. A coal mine stuffiness pervades the air as the 4-piece walk onstage; they are greeted by a curious and surprisingly quiet reaction from the crowd, a reticence which seems to say “so where the fuck have you guys been?!”
Kick starting with a full-throttle rendition of ‘Moodswings,’ they dispel any apprehensive feelings the crowd may have. A heady rush of shimmering guitars and thumping drum explosiveness is matched only by thundering strobe lighting, morphing the band into flickering, imperceptible shapes.
“It’s been a while,” Wardner says before vaulting into raw gem ‘Losing Touch,’ a sucker punch of angst ridden screams and buzz-saw guitars. “About time too,” one funny guy replies afterwards, a declaration met with rapturous applause.
Romping through a mixed set of ‘Finelines’ favourites and new numbers, MV prove that they have aged well, returning with a slicker, bolder sound. After technical difficulties put down to the searing heat, ‘War of the worlds,’ a song as gargantuan as the title suggests, soars from the speakers with its ascending guitar hooks and beautifully pitched melodies. In the past, Som’s live vocal performances have struggled to match the band’s shining brilliance, but tonight his highly improved delivery is duly noted.
Among the waves and waves of distortion, heat and light, the band retain their maverick cool mystique throughout. Wardner keeps the chat to a minimum, relying solely on music to make the deepest impact.
There are but two low points during a largely breathtaking set: A rather rushed, ramshackle rendering of ‘Cemented Shoes’ and a punk rendition of Katy Perry’s ‘Hot n Cold,’ which sounds like the pre pubescent fumbling of a garage covers band.
Nevertheless, they end on a scorching high note with signature finale track ‘Tongue Tied,’ a mind bending tremolo assault which spirals into a cacophony of ear splitting noise. By the end, the mosh pit is a frenzied sea of flailing bodies, and anyone with enough breath left shows their gratitude with panting, ragged howls.
Without a shadow of doubt, MV are back, brimming with just as much vitality and vigour as 2001. They’ve been away for a long time, but have proved their relevance more than ever. Their impressively loyal fan-base will be glad to know that they haven’t lost touch.