live review: Japandroids/ Cadence Weapon, Upstairs at the Garage, 29th May 2012

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Before I get into how great Japandroids were, I have to give some credit to Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon who treated us to 40 minutes of smooth hip-hop and totally won the audience over in the process. I had never heard of him before this, although he has released a few albums and actually been nominated for Canada's version of the Mercury, The Polaris Prize. Fellow Canadians Japandroids have taken him on all the dates on this short UK tour, and if all the shows have gone as well as this, his profile over here will certainly have risen. Unsurprisingly he plays quite a lot from his new album 'Hope in Dirt City' as it had just been released today, and he gets this sold-out crowd clapping along by the end of his set
The last time I saw Japandroids (in the ICA) they were super excited to be playing London, and tonight they seem even more so, as Brian was already instructing us to "destroy this place" over the opening barrage of guitar noise that announced their arrival. The excuse for this is that tonight is the last night of a short UK tour, playing small venues like this, and having as much fun as possible in the process. They launch into 'The Boys are Leaving Town' and there is no stopping them. New song 'Adrenalin Nightshift' follows, and then we are into the first real classic tune of the night, 'Younger Us', which was a great single a year or so ago, and is now on the new album.
New songs like 'The Nights of Wine and Roses' fit in perfectly tonight, with lines like "yell like hell to the heavens", but it's really the material from the first album that get the venue going wild. By the time they play 'Wet Hair' the moshers are unstoppable, and relatively new tune 'The House That Heaven Built' is one of the most anthemic things they have written.
Brian is wearing a funny t-shirt with four black cats in a Black Flag logo pattern, with the inscription 'Cat Flag', which is not only cool, it also helps to pinpoint a key influence to this duo. They have always embraced the ferocious punk energy of Black Flag and their kind, although some of this new material comes across like they have been listening to Springsteen.
The colossal beats of 'Heart Sweats' rival 'Wet Hair' for more insane crowd reaction, and someone emerges from the mosh to add vocals to 'Darkness on the Edge of Gastown'. Old faves 'Crazy/Forever' and 'Sovereignty' keep the intensity up before 'Young Hearts Spark Fire' finishes up with a mighty blast. They are keen to wring every last second out of tonight's sold out crowd, and they conclude proceedings with 'For the Love of Ivy' a cover of a song by Jeffrey Lee Pierce's Gun Club which underlines this duo's traditional psychotic rock n roll tendencies.
It was a bit unfair on other bands to play one of the gigs of the year in the same week they release one of the best rock albums of 2012 with 'Celebration Rock', but that's what they just did.

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