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Thursday, August 30, 2012 - Page updated at 01:00 p.m.
Refused accepted with enthusiasm at Showbox SoDo
By Charlie Zaillian
Special to The Seattle Times
Concert Review |
Tuesday night at Showbox SoDo, Refused made up for lost time.
In 1998, the Umeå, Sweden quintet set the international punk and hard-core community alight with its 55-minute cross-genre landmark, "The Shape of Punk to Come," then promptly broke up.
As Refused's influence on creatively heavy music swelled, its members kept busy with projects like the mod-styled (International) Noise Conspiracy, avant-garde TEXT, and power pop Invasionen, amid growing clamor for a reunion.
This year, they finally caved. Now, well into a lengthy North American itinerary, the band showed the near-capacity Seattle crowd that the decade-plus break only fueled its fire.
A populist rock god in a navy-blue cardigan, singer/screamer Dennis Lyxzén is truly one of the world's great frontmen, closer in spirit to James Brown than, say, Henry Rollins. His every leg kick, moon-walk and microphone trick felt perfectly choreographed, yet sincere. At one point, feeding off the room's manic energy, he left the stage to crowd-surf upright across the hands of his audience.
Powerful and present, Lyxzén's bandmates were dialed in for the hour-plus performance, which, as one might expect, consisted mostly of material off "Shape."
On that album, Refused streamlined anti-establishment aggression with jazz, electronic and spoken-word trappings and decidedly nonpunk instrumentation, including violin, upright bass and melodica.
Live, atypically structured tracks such as "Liberation Frequency" — which merges a jangly classic-rock progression to an earsplitting, stop-on-a-dime chorus — sounded unique, even now.
"New Noise," Refused's signature song, was an obvious encore and resonated like the classic it is. Showgoers went berserk at the first hint of its prickly central riff, pogoing and slam-dancing with pinkies and index fingers raised high (rock concert shorthand for "we're not worthy").
The band continued past the posted 10:30 p.m. curfew, ending with a raging rendition of "Tannhäuser/Derivè," a quiet-then-loud epic buried deep on "Shape's" second side.
Near the end of the set Lyxzén said it was "beautiful" to see the fans reacting so enthusiastically and he thanked them for "keeping this music alive all these years."
Beautiful, however, is a superlative unfit to describe openers Sleigh Bells.
Despite smoke machines, strobe lights, machine-gun iPod beats and a curiously inaudible wall of 12 Marshall amplifier cabinets, the coed New York trio's shrill 45-minute set couldn't rouse the folded-armed crowd.
Charlie Zaillian: email@example.com
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