25 Ta Life / Closet Monster
10 July 2003
Camden Underworld, London
It`s practically empty in The Underworld tonight, perhaps due to indifference, poor promotion or more likely due to the Rollins Band playing a set of Black Flag material at The Astoria.
Closet Monster are a young band from Ontario, Canada on their first European tour. Musically they`re very much in the melodic punk category and hence could be compared to any number of similar acts. They do however have their act together and this is a very tight performance with lots of energy, ignoring the fact that only about 12 people are watching.
Apparently the songs are of a political nature, the band being staunch Socialists, not that you can tell as they hurtle along at high speed. About halfway through a set I`m enjoying, doubts begin to creep in to my mind and I started to think of Busted! Neatly mini-dreaded hair, choreographed jumps and trousers falling off arses, all the punk by numbers details are there. In fact the bassists trousers are hung so low that he`s persuaded by the rest of the band to play they final three numbers without his trousers, though thankfully with boxers.
Rick "Ta Life" Healy, who for all intents and purpose is 25 Ta Life, has to be tempted away from his extensive merchandise stall to play tonight`s gig. This is one indication of his hardcore lifestyle which started as a roadie for Agnostic Front and he also fronts Comin` Correct.
Given the low turn out, I`m able to bypass the windmilling sparse pit and take position stage front leaning on a monitor. From here Rick commands your attention, with dreadlocks down to his arse, practically every inch of his body tattooed and a face covered in piercings. The sound is very good tonight and in fact, so heavy is the guitar sound that it`s not only half way through that I realise there`s no bass guitar. The rest of the band is made up of two guitarists and a drummer.
Musically we`re talking New York Hardcore, with the more metallic era of Agnostic Front an obvious reference point, emphasised by a well-received cover of Crucified. From their own material we get a selection of material from the Friendship, Loyalty, Commitment CD including the tilte track and the punishing Let The Past Be The Past. Older material is represented by the likes of the anthemic Strength Through Unity.
Material from the new EP Best of Friends/Enemies indicated 25 Ta Life are not softening with age and perhaps surprisingly closed with an instrumental version of Slayer`s Reign In Blood, forsaking 25 Ta Life`s most well known song Short Fuse.
From a selfish point of view this was a great experience to enjoy a fierce performance on an intimate level. However, the sparse turnout probably means it was also the last chance we`ll have had to catch them in the UK