Chuck Schuldiner Project

Friday, January 22, 2016

Refused in Paris (@Le Trianon, 01/12/2015)

Whether you love them or hate them, Refused are the best example of a band whose artistic delivery and impact match their gargantuan ambition. The same way “Who wants to be a Millionnaire” contestant John Carpenter confidently baffled the world by calling his dad to boast about his 1 million dollar winning, the ballsy statement that is “The Shape of Punk to come” has baffled the world with its accurately foretold prophecy. What was once a grossly underrated band rose up and returned to the scene, greeted by the newfound fan base and praise they deserve. Returning to Paris for the 2nd time since their reformation, the punk quitet from Umea, Sweden were greeted to a Sold-out show at the large, prestigious venue known as Le Trianon.


Scheduled to open up for the band were a local four fifth all-girl band known as X Syndicate, whose sharp attire consisting of black and white suit and tie combos combined with their voluminous haircuts and makeup made for quite the first impression. The bands’ blatantly straightforward overdriven blend of punk n’ roll bordering on slow thrash, while incredibly simplistic, did make for a nice starter for the show… at least initially. While there wasn’t anything all that bad about the set, the bands’ lack of inspiration seemed to become more and more evident as time went by during the course of their uninterrupted mishmash of metal guitar 101 riffs. The vocalist did give out a solid performance, though her microphone was all too often way too low in the mix. Most disturbing of all was the staleness of the performers whose onstage attitude made them seem a lot more preoccupied by the press photographers at the front of the stage than their actual audience. Overall, I couldn’t shake the bitter aftertaste hinting towards a sense of shallowness after listening to a somewhat fun but all too generic set of riffs and songs.


Refused were then next in line and prepared to take on their avid fans. As the time for the bands’ set to start off came night, the audience was greeted and treated to an introduction with Kendrick Lamar’s King Kunta, suggesting the bands’, an unexpected yet pleasant choice that got a fair share of the audience pumped up. The Swedes took to the stage looking sharp as ever with their buttoned shirts and fired up with Elektra off of their comeback record Freedom. While the opening number for the show did feel somewhat underwhelming, the band quickly got back on track after getting warmed up for the first few minutes, getting all fired up in time to unleash The Shape of Punk to Come  unto the audience as a follow-up. Vocalist Dennis Lyxzén visibly needed a song or 2 to get warmed up but as soon as the initial tracks gave him time to get in the groove he quickly turned into a juggernaut. With a fair balance of songs off of Freedom and the classic The Shape of Punk to Come to please and win over old and new fans alike, the band delivered an incredibly fun and intense live set, brilliantly articulated and punctuated with breaks and builds to keep the show fresh and dynamic. Admittedly not a fan of larger venues such as Le Trianon, particularly in the context of a punk show, I was very impressed by the bands’ ability to make the best out of their setting and close off the typically large gap between the stage and audience through their explosive stage presence and their interaction with the audience. With Dennis swirling his mic chord and jumping around like an acrobat while busting some sweet moves, the band shows little to no signs of ageing  and are visibly still fully charged up with the electrifying energy that inked their music and name in punk rock anthology. With each outburst of the bands’ syncopated rhythms and danceable rock grooves contagious enough to tear lesser prepared venues down to the ground, Refused had their audience on their toes and running wild in the pit.

Having lost nothing in the way of their militant spirit, the band also took a brave stand to address the COP21 summit as well as the tragic events having struck Paris only 2 weeks earlier. The quintet from Sweden had played at le Bataclan the last time they toured France and were very adamant in spreading a message of unyielding love and solidarity to their audience. “THIS is our Weapon! Please take care of each other!” the band cried out, with Dennis Lyxzén on the brink of tears as they fired up “Rather be Dead”, during which he jumped into the crowd to yell the refrain alongside the fans.
Thanks to the bands’ incredibly rich sound, Refused offered a superbly paced and diverse set, crashing down with hard-hitting powerhouses all the while steering clear from a one-dimensional sequence of the same grooves and moods. I was most notably pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of the dance-able rock numbers such as the new Servants of death which helped to switch up the mood for a bit.
The bands’ live Bombination in 14 bursts flew by in what seemed like a mere half hour, closing off the main set with a brilliant rendition of the classic “Worm of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull” before leaving the stage. A sold-out venue full of fans cannot be fooled though, as every single person in the room were fully aware that the band had still some unfinished business to attend to. After a roaring ovation of fans calling out for the closing songs of the evening, the band returned to the stage to the iconic opening riff to “New Noise”, to which the crowd lost their minds and split pit from side to side before wreaking havoc. To add some more the icing on the cake before bringing an evening to a definite close, the band followed up their anthemic encore with the crushing “Tannhäuser / Derivè”, the perfect encore for the bands’ phenomenal set.

With a set such as this one, Refused leave no doubt as to the band’s relevance in today’s rock scene, their latest creative output and their explosive live shows stating loud and clear that these Swedes are going to keep tearing it up for years to come. Don’t believe what they say, Refused are fucking alive and kicking it harder than ever.

Robin.

Thank you to the staff at HIM Media for making this live report possible!
Live photos by Nessie Monteiro.

Setlist 

1. Elektra
2. The Shape of Punk to Come
3. The Refused Party Program
4. Dawkins Christ
5. The Deadly Rhythm
6. Françafrique
7. Rather Be Dead
8. Coup d'état
9. War on the Palaces
10. Servants of Death
11. Refused Are Fucking Dead
12. Thought Is Blood
13. Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine
14. Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull
15. New Noise
16. Tannhäuser / Derivè

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