NED'S ATOMIC DUSTBIN London Shepards Bush Empire 22 November 2013
A quarter century is a long time. 18 years since their last album, and Ned's Atomic Dustbin are now, a band mercifully free of the ravages of popularity. They were always, in my eyes, cursed with a name far less suitable than their abilities, always underappreciated by the press, and never really noticed for what they actually were. As Caitlin Moran's vicious and stupid review once had it, they were always seen by some as merely stupid, cider-swelling, floppy-fringed, short-wearing cunts.
But this band were much better than that. The words were much smarter than anyone ever noticed. The music – a combination of two bass players and buzzsaw guitars punctuated by unforgiving drumming and natural vocals – was always stronger than many people thought. Some of their contemporaries ; lesser lights who simply didn't have the words, the songs, the precise deftness of touch – deserved their ridicule and being overlooked by memory. But the Neds were simply a great band in the wrong time and wrong place. Had they all short hair and come from Chicago they would be legendary.
Nowadays, the Neds – the original lineup who have played 9 shows in the past five years – occasionally break surface for a small number of shows. This – their longest UK tour since 1994 at three shows – is a short, but sweet live return. Cud and Republica support, both bands equally of their time, but not equal of stature, are not particularly good. Cud are a mass of sludge. On the other hand, Neds play a short 21 song set which is over in 70 brief minutes, but with four albums and a b-side compilation, they managed to neither overstay their welcome or sell themselves short. Half of the million-selling “God Fodder” gets aired, alongside half of “Are You Normal?” and a smaller slice of the final in-at-110 “Brain Blood Volume.” Purists bemoan the absence of more earlier songs (but the band played “God Fodder” in full at shows in 2009 and 2010), and here, what the band show is that the later songs were just as good, if not better, with denser, more intricate arrangements, a reliance on drama and melody, instead of a simple, primitive, out-of-the-gate race to get to the end of the song as quickly as possible. But instead of that, these songs have aged well, that still feel true.
“My childhood obsession is my record collection.” and that is still true as well.
Suave And Suffocated –
All I Ask of Myself –
Not Sleeping Around –
Until You Find Out –
Walking Through Syrup –
Less Than Useful –
Cut Up –
Grey Cell Green –
You Don't Want To Do That –
Kill Your TV –