There’s nothing like a 20-year album anniversary to make you feel old. And for many of us, the last few years have served up a raft of such reminders, with a number of seminal post-hardcore albums reaching that milestone.
With the likes of Relationship of Command, The Argument, Full Collapse and, most recently, What Is It To Burn blowing out their candles over the past couple of years, Glassjaw’s Worship and Tribute now has the same honour. And with the Covid pandemic souring plans to celebrate the same for Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence two years ago, the Long Island quartet have come across the pond to continue celebrations for both albums that started in the US in March.
The previous evening saw the band perform EYEWTKAS in full at London’s O2 Forum Kentish Town, and tonight we turn to the band’s more polished sophomore.
Liverpool’s Loathe kick off this evening’s proceedings, following an intro of Gerry and The Pacemakers’ You’ll Never Walk Alone, nodding to the band’s hometown (and potentially the fact that Liverpool, at that very moment, were about to kick off in the Champions League final). Following the calm, instrumental curveball that was the group’s last album, The Things They Believe, which built on the ambient elements within the group’s more abrasive releases, one could envisage a set that would weave its way between the two extremes. But tonight’s set appears to be almost exclusively drawn from the lauded I Let It In And It Took Everything, with Red Room’s thundering drums setting the tone for the evening before the band dives into the lush and expansive soundscapes of Aggressive Evolution.
Playing largely in silhouette, which only partially lifts across the course of the set, the band bounce between the crushing riffs and dreamier textures that run through much of their material, whose contrast is mirrored by frontman Kadeem France’s vocals and those of guitarist Erik Bickerstaffe. By the end, the band has done a sterling job to remind us of just why they have caught so much attention here and in the US, and how we can only guess so much about the direction they will take on their upcoming fourth album, even if we have already had Dimorphous Display released at the start of the year as a teaser for what’s to come.
Glassjaw arrive, bathed in blue light as the opening riff of Tip Your Bartender rips into the room. Favourites Mu Empire, Cosmopolitan Blood Loss and Ape Dos Mil come in the expected order, with frontman Daryl Palumbo slinking calmly around his bandmates. What strikes you is just how faithful the performance is to the album, with the same intensity coming through live, but also just how effortless the band manages to make it all appear. Given that they have been playing these songs live for over twenty years, perhaps this shouldn’t be any surprise. But rather than display any signs of weariness with such familiar material, or taking any creative liberties, the band shows just how willing it is deliver the album as it’s cherished by the audience.
By the time Stuck Pig comes around, the band is in peak flow and the crowd is fully engaged. Album over, and after what seems like pre-encore eternity, the band return to the stage and launch into Material Control–opener New White Extremity. Now a little looser, but with the same focus, the subsequent three songs follow a familiar running order, suggesting we may get another album played in full. But no such luck – the atmospheric Cut and Run comes along to close the evening.
The difficulty with album-in-full anniversary shows such as this one is that audiences are not just familiar with the material, but with the order, pace and energy from start to finish. There is, therefore a certain expectation of consistency over conventional performances, which can be easily hampered by the unfamiliarity (or difficulty) with playing certain songs live. But Glassjaw defy any such expectations and prove themselves to be consummate performers, with the ability to communicate everything found on that album so many years later. On such a large stage the four are sparsely spread out, and one could see this as symbolic for the space and respect they’ve given Worship and Tribute to be properly celebrated this evening. And what better a tribute than that?
See more photos from the night in our live photo galleries below: