Gig Review: The Orwells Storm Back Through London (Scala, 07/03/17)


Photo credit: Darius Azadeh

With their newly released LP Terrible Human Beings, The Orwells make a triumphant return to London, this time with 3 albums under their belt and an even bigger hoard of manic fans to boot.

November, 2016. After nearly a year of radio silence, The Orwells, having released new single ‘Buddy’ and announced their 3rd album a month prior, bring their notoriously raucous live show to the Tufnell Park Dome. Despite living up to reputation (lead singer Mario Cuomo climbing atop speakers, countless stage divers, etc.), one couldn’t help feeling slightly lost. The setlist was made up of nearly 50% new songs, somewhat a rarity for pre-album shows. Although the boys were clearly relishing in the new material, the crowd payoff left a little to be desired.

Flash forward to March 2017. Almost every word, every guitar riff and even every nuanced grunt of the new songs is met with heartfelt repetition, amongst the boisterous mosh pits, less than a month after their release. It really is The Orwells’ show that lives up to the idea, the promise: Mario (donning a sequinned gold suit jacket) bursting at the seems with attitude, the band on top form, and at least one altercation with a security guard.

Common place setlist trifecta ‘Black Francis’ / ‘Fry’ / ‘Dirty’ Sheets kicks things off, making it clear that things will go just as expected. As guitarist Matt O’Keefe declares, this is their last show in Europe before flying back home, giving one the sense that this really is a celebration not just for the audience, but for the band.

Placing new album opener ‘They Put A Body In The Bayou’ mid set is a brave yet inspired move, breaking the rapid paced beginning run of songs with an ominous opening, mirrored perfectly by the burgeoning mosh pit, ready to engulf its creators.

Back in the swing of things, the band follow ‘Buddy’ with their ‘older, more broken in’ songs. As the room reaches fever pitch before ‘Gotta Get Down’, Mario, noticing the apparent mishandling of crowd surfers, pushes over a security guard, before berating him. Despite being a rather audacious  move, it further adds to the mythos of the band. A visual representation of ‘We Don’t Give A F**k’.

As the band reach ‘Double Feature’, the closing song of the album and nearly every show on the tour, the epic instrumental climax whips the crowd into a frenzy, they create a satisfying end to the evening. However, surprisingly, this is not the end. The band prove the importance of the show by reappearing for an encore, something that hasn’t happened at any U.K. date this tour. Initially dusting off b-side ‘Head’, the band then launch into their final song ‘The Righteous One’ – songs one would not have expected to hear at the show, which proved a real treat. In true Orwells fashion, Mario, dipping into the crowd frantically, eventually climbs up the balcony, finishing the number while gyrating on the bannister and a security guard pulling him off. You truly couldn’t write this.

Terrible Human Beings is available everywhere now.

Darius Azadeh

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