Tag Archive: Between Blood and Wine

New Model Army @ Nottingham Rock City, 13 December 2014

To a city filled with the myth of the legend on the man who robbed the rich to feed the poor, we’re here to see Cromwell’s army as the ‘family’ roll into town for a special and unique take of this particular band’s 34 year career. With just two dates in the UK – welcome all to ‘Between Blood and Wine’ with New Model Army.

New Model Army formed way back in 1980 in Bradford, Yorkshire, releasing their first album in ‘Vengeance’ in ‘84.  Led by Justin Sullivan, NMA  attract a truly loyal following and as a band, been overtly political, never fearful of being confrontational, is part of their DNA. They’ve never chosen the easy route, sticking to their guns and principals throughout.  The journey has never been easy for the band throughout their history either. Resilient to the last – lineup changes, personal tragedies are all part of the band’s history and are part of who they are.


And everyone is here for an incredibly early start to a gig – the main band are due stage on at 6.45pm according to their website and Facebook feeds (curfew is 10 – club night after – a usual with such venues these days) and will deliver a two part, over 2 ½ hour one-off set – with additional musical guests and experimentation’s on the old.  NMA are excited about the possibilities as are the early fans who tuned up tonight.

NMA take to the stage around 7.15pm – the venue is already rammed to the hilt, with punters from all corners of the UK and beyond, the faithful, the devotees, the fan, the new the old, punks, rockers, goths, people in suits and fancy dresses, little people – a whole eclectic mix to see these Bradford stalwarts.

The set is dripping with dry ice, spot lights give effect and the menace of Sullivan is already on show. ‘Guessing’ – he’s ranting at the stars. To huge applause from the fans. ‘Rumour & Rapture’ and ‘Christian Militia’ set the tone – and Sullivan thanks and tells us every year is some kind f anniversary – this in particular ‘1984’.  And then to a drum-punching beat (there’s double drummers on stage tonight) to add to the power. Ke’s been to some interesting place and went to one and came back with this ‘Red Rain’ – red set, crankily powerful song, NMA are ramping it up. ‘Stormclouds’ from their latest and up there with their best album ‘ Between Dog and Wolf’ is storming quite literally, followed by their 80’s hit ‘ No Rest. “By God – What is this evil we have done?” we all chant as a question.

To a song “about lots of things, ‘Knievel’ – to song from their other great album ‘Thunder and Consolation’ ‘Family’ to the title track of the new ‘Between Dod and Wolf.’

Part one is over – and we all stop to take breath. NMA are on form tonight and the crowd buzz with anticipation for part 2. It’s very warm inside the packed Rock City and they return ‘ here we go. First start starts with ‘Ballad’ – and starts quietly. Sullivan stops are the first attempt – the crowd is noisy, some tell others to shut up. Again he starts, and again he stops. “Com’on give us a break..” requests Sullivan. “ We’ll ask you very rudely to shut the f** up “ [to cheers from the fans]”… or we’ll f*** off. If you didn’t want to come you shouldn’t have brought ticket.” Shhhhhhh goes the crowd and third time lucky we’re off – and expanded Army on stage, two violinists, cello-ist. The faithful are singing.Next us ‘ Someone Like Jesus’ – haunting rendition.

Wether ballad on full on venomous angst – NMA are in the zone and the faithful be at one. ‘Orange Tree Roads’ about choices in life – the crowd are bopping, heads bouncing, arms the air. And everyone know the words and chants to all lyrics float through the venue. ‘March in September’ we “ooooooo” – ‘Devil’s Bargain’ the stage drenched in red light – a drumbeaten chant.

This one’s a young person’s song. As the young look up to the adults. Sullivan ponders that our own children may be doing the same to us. He hope’s this is not want they are thinking as they give us ‘A Liberal Education’ – the ‘towers’ of fans in force again – a line of five plus people standing on literally the shoulders of others – punching out to the tune.

MA are giving us everything from all their extensive catalos tonight – ‘No Mirror, No Shadow’ from 2007’s ‘High’ – “As you get older you carry more baggage with you?” ponders Sullivan. Tonight we  are part of something. We are chosen. As we chant out way through ‘One of the Chosen’. ‘Family’ starts off in a more acoustic stripped back manner – and then we sing. “Give me some place that I can go, Where I don’t have to justify myself, Swimming out alone against this tide. Looking for family, looking for tribe.” Sullivan ponders that it is an unlikely song to sing along to and the crowd spontaneously  bust into ‘Merry Christmas Everyone…’

“Innocent days….” Sullivan comments, and we’re into the next epic. ‘No Pain.’ And the tracks power along – ‘Angry Planet’, ‘Purity’ and it’s abdicate accompaniment ‘Poison Street’. And the set complete, with the venom angst and chant that is ‘What A Wonderful Way To Go…’

Set complete – the band soak it up 0- mutual appreciation from band and crowd. But it’s not over.
In full violin flow ‘Vagabonds’ – before a huge drum crank – it’s vicious, and venomous and we sing “We are old, we are young, we are in this together, Vagabonds and children, prisoners forever
With pulses a-raging and eyes full of wonder, Kicking out behind us again…” And then we get their take on a Kinks cover, ‘Daylight’. Sullivan tells us that Ray Davies wimped out when heard it.  But hey, f*** it they thought, they’d do it anyway. Before the totally frenetic ‘225’ from ‘Thunder and Consolation’. Rampant.

And another encore – ‘Vengeance and we chant “I believe in getting the b*****ds, getting the b*****ds, getting the b*****ds….” Thanks to all, their crew and their kinda Christmas take, dedicated to Tommy Lee, everyone is singing. We’re in the valleys of the ‘Green and Grey’, where we think most clearly.

Nottingham Rock City. As soon as we walked into the doors decision was made. In all the years, I’ve been gong to gigs, I’ve never made it here before. The dark environment, sticky floors cavernous celling, mezzanine floor, atmosphere and awesome sound system. We’d like to swap Rock City with Brum’s o2 Academy please? Thanks.

I’ve seen NMA a few times over the years – invariably, whatever the line-up, however many fans are there they give EVERYTHING. They are tough. Rugged. Tonight, it was great to see them play probably one their largest solo gigs in the UK for years to the 2,500 punters. NMA and the family in full glorious, in your face, glory.  Track were not old, this was no retro tour, this is current, this is now – bizarrely probably more so then in their entire career. With the incredibly talented group of musicians and this special guests tonight, this was indeed more than special. Tonight, we’re grinning – awesome gig – we all know this is what this band deserve and then some.

Look for family? Looking for tribe? Then join the Model Army.  It’s a Wonderful Way to Go….


Setlist I:
Rumour & Rapture
Christian Militia
Red Earth
No Rest
Between Dog and Wolf

Setlist II:
Someone Like Jesus
Into the Wind
Orange Tree Roads
March in September
Devil’s Bargain
A Liberal Education,
No Mirror, No Shadow
One of the Chosen
Family Life
No Pain
Angry Planet
Poison Street
Wonderful Way to Go

Encore I:
Daylight [The Kinks Cover]

Encore II:
Green and Grey

Listening: New Model Army
Thunder and Consolation [1989]
Between Dog and Wolf [2013]

Pictures courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies