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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing / Andrew O’Neill (live at the O2 Academy Islington)

London
18 November 2016

Andrew O'Neill live November 2016

Men guitarist Andrew O’Neill opens the show, an amiable, affable presence beneath his comedy black metal goatskull backdrop. His is a fascinating cocktail of comedy — the gentle absurdism of an Eddie Izzard or Ross Noble shot through with a pitch-black streak and edged with a harder political sensibility, all filtered through the lens of Heavy Fucking Metal.

It’s hard to describe a comedy show without spoiling the jokes, and he tells them better than I would anyway, but suffice it to say we get a prolonged routine about trampolines, an awesomely offhanded aside about Napalm Death which turns into an unexpected, cutting and graceful heckler takedown and a wonderful rendition of erstwhile Men show-closer “Jesus Was A Cockney”. I mean, it’s hardly what you’d call a tough crowd — the headliner is his own band, after all — but he does go down a storm, and it’s hard to see how any decent human being could fail to be charmed.

And then it’s time for The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, making a brief visit home to Olde London Towne in the midst of their frenetic UK tour. They’ve always excelled at knowing their audience, and that’s where their eclecticism comes in handy — playing on a punk bill they’ll do a hard and nasty set of their faster numbers, supporting a goth band they’ll break out the darker stuff — but it’s when they get a massive headlining show that they really get to showcase their alarming range and still have time for a few jokes — the Andy Heintz-baiting “Steph(v)enson” makes a welcome return to their set, and “Charlie” is as funny as ever.

The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing live November 2016

New single “This House Is Not Haunted” is a particular highlight, seriously spooky atheist goth-rock with three-part harmonies. We also get a storming take on the Killing Joke-esque “The Big Stink”, with its pummelling backbeat courtesy of Jez Miller and (naturally) engineer-praising chorus. Bassist Marc Burrows also unleashes his inner Billy Bragg with a (literally, in his case) tear-jerking run through “Princess Charlotte” (from his Before Victoria Regencypunk side project), and Mr O’Neill death metals his little black heart out on “Margate Fhtagn”, an everyday story of a day-trip to the seaside improved immeasurably by the Elder Gods.

The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing live November 2016The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing live November 2016

But all joking aside,The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing have long since transcended their comedy/novelty act roots and are, pound for pound, one of the best live rock acts on the circuit. Smart, sleazy, and a little bit spooky, they also rock like motherfuckers. Steampunk or no steampunk, there’s nobody quite like them. And the world is probably a tiny bit safer for that knowledge. Onwards and upwards!

-Words: Justin Farrington-
-Pictures: Dave Pettit-

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