I loves a last-minute gig, so I does. And after banging on about Sweden’s finest exponents of post punk the Viagra Boys for the last 12 months, it would be a travesty if I didn’t put my money where my mouth is and actually catch them live wouldn’t it? My gigging buddy and I toyed with the idea of going to London, we ummed and aahed about going to Manchester, and of course the old adage of ‘you snooze, you lose’ happened yet again and those gigs came and went.
Then the text message came: “Viagra Boys playing Sheffield tomorrow”. A swift reply of “Shall we?” was all that was needed and we found ourselves off to Sheffield on a sunny Saturday evening for the last date of the UK tour.
After 3 attempts to find the right venue (it’s not The Forum and there is more than one Foundry in Sheffield!) we finally make it to The Foundry, a venue that is part of Sheffield Uni. A decent size venue that holds 500-600 maybe, it has a great vibe and is filling up quickly as we enter.
The Viagra Boys are back with a new album called ‘Cave World’ on July 8th and the first single ‘Aint No Thief’ is a banger of a tune. A hardcore dance mash-up that sits somewhere between The Beastie Boys and The Prodigy, and to me it makes Viagra Boys the most exciting proposition since Alabama 3 in their prime. I will put money on this tune being a highlight of tonight’s gig.
They open with ‘Research Chemicals’ and the place erupts, the whole dance floor bouncing as one. Singer Sebastian Murphy is the center of attention, and for good reason. He brings the punk rock attitude to a band that are the tightest live unit I have seen in a long time. Within a minute of the opening song, he has removed his white wifebeater to reveal his heavily tattooed torso. He swings from the mic stand like Iggy Pop meets Shane MacGowan as ‘Ain’t Nice’ takes the room to another level. A killer hook and a massive groove. Viagra Boys sure bring the party and the energy levels rarely dip below high octane all night.
New single ‘Troglodyte’ is sounding better with every listen, hell it’s only been out 3 days! Heading in a more dance-orientated direction than previous material seems to be a good move. This tune sounds like Devo, its killer and live it sounds fantastic. It may be surprising to some but a Viagra Boys show is a high energy dance show. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a punk rock attitude, but this is a live dance band, tight as fuck and designed to pop a pill and lose yourself in the moment. And it seems many around are doing just that. A good crowd, a mix of alternative students and the sort of seasoned, middle-aged gig goers we usually see at Alabama 3 and Primal Scream gigs.
It’s a packed room, everyone is into it and its not one of those ‘stand there with your arms folded’ gigs, those who venture near the front had better prepare to get a flailing limb in the face, as the crowd surfing is up to metal band proportions tonight. I’m loving this!
It’s all about the drums, the bass and the groove they create. The keyboards, electronica and bursts of sax give an edgy, alternative feel to the live sound and the tight band work well, while the singer brings the onstage destruction. He disappears from view on many occasions, lying on the stage floor singing his lines in a sweaty, fucked up mess.
There’s a couple of highlights tonight. As expected, ‘Ain’t No Thief’ is insane live. That bassline sounds awesome live and takes the Foundry crowd to yet another high. ‘Sports’ has become their signature tune and gets probably the biggest reception of the night. Many songs are extended and jammed out to control the ebb and flow of the crowd, just highlighting what a great live band they are.
With a charismatic frontman, a tight as fuck band and a catalogue of pure bangers, you have to ask yourself what the fuck do they put in the water in Helsinki? Viagra Boys are on the verge of greatness, make the most of seeing them in small venues while you can.
Author: Ben Hughes