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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing (live at The Underworld)

TMTWNBBFN live at The Underworld November 2015London
21 November 2015

A grim Saturday night in Olde London Towne, and The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing have their name up in lights. Well, kind of; even the acronym only just about fits above Camden’s legendary Underworld.

By the time I get there, having spent the day sweeping chimneys and going down a mine (in a purely metaphorical sense — actually working in a shop) I’ve already missed the supports, it being the aforementioned Saturday, meaning there’s some sort of young people’s dancing event scheduled for later, and therefore a curfew on the venue. Basically I’m late and everything else is early, which isn’t great. But hey, it’s mainly The Men who I’m here to see, so while it’s a shame to miss the intriguing Blood Tub Orchestra and the wonderfully-named Fat Goth (as well as The Men’s Andrew O’Neill doing his stand-up show), it’s not entirely a disaster. But they’d better be good, y’know?

TMTWNBBFN live at The Underworld November 2015

Fortunately there are no worries on that score. For anyone who’s yet to be introduced to their dark yet hilarious take on steampunk, Not Your Typical Victorians sets their stall out pretty well — not only are they not your typical Victorians, they’re not even your typical steampunks.

It seems unlikely they’d use their difference engines to share daguerrotypes of “classic” airship control consoles with captions saying shit like “Only 1890s Kids Will Recognise This”; they’d be more likely to circulate angry memes about how the empire is run by assholes and how we should bring the troops home. And pictures of dicks, probably, before you start thinking having a social conscience by necessity makes people dour; this is no more the case now than it was in the 19th Century. No doubt many an insurrectionary plot was hatched in the music halls and gin palaces of Victorian London.

TMTWNBBFN live at The Underworld November 2015

And speaking of music halls, tonight’s rendition of “I’m In Love With Marie Lloyd”, a tale of showbiz and stalking during which Andy Heintz does his very best Bowie with a remarkable level of success, is storming, adding a beautiful level of Kinks-esque classic British pop to their mighty punk onslaught. They’ve now managed to refine their signature sound to a point where you can genuinely believe that ’80s West Coast hardcore was actually spawned in the East End in the PREVIOUS ’80s, as long as you’re also prepared to accept the possibility that Darkthrone might have been hanging out there too. Which is a bit of a stretch, but it’s worth it; the combination is delicious.

TMTWNBBFN live at The Underworld November 2015

Tracks from the new album, like the extreme metal dad joke that is “A Clean Sweep” sit comfortably besides older crowd-pleasers like “Brunel” and the supremely agitpoptastic “Doing It For The Whigs”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — they’re the only real steampunk band out there; or at least the only one that earns that second syllable. All those dashing sky pirates and eccentric scientists are mere steamhipsters by comparison.

There was a lot to be angry about in the nineteenth century, which would make the whole thing slightly less fun, were there not also a lot to be gleefully smashed up. Or, indeed, smashed ON… like gin, for example. “The Gin Song” is another highlight, only I’ve chosen my drinks poorly and have to toast it with rum. Which still works.

TMTWNBBFN live at The Underworld November 2015Whatever you toast ’em with, they richly deserve it — three albums and a shit-load of gigs down, and they’re now one of the best, and hardest-working, bands in town.

-Words: Justin Farrington-
-Pictures: Chrissi Howell-

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