Tonight marks the final date of Mikal Cronin’s European tour and he and his bandmates are in a mood to relieve the pressure. The delicate arrangements of MCII are replaced with power chords, speed and shredding, though it’s strictly fuzz-with-finesse, not losing the melodic kernel at the heart of all Cronin’s music. So we get superfast versions of second album classics like ‘Weight’, ‘Am I Wrong’ and ‘I’m Done Running From You’, all Lemonhead-y power-pop on record but a mosher’s delight when played live with volume and acceleration. He slows it down when he returns solo for the first encore, with his versatile love-wrought ballad ‘Don’t Let Me Go’ but then the band join him for the final encore, an emphatic deconstruction of Wreckless Eric’s 'Whole Wide World'. This is at first respectfully quiet then insanely loud, repeating the quiet/loud dynamic but keeping it closely controlled so that a "1-2-3-4" from Cronin either raises the tempo or brings everything back into line. You shouldn’t hear carbon copies of album tracks at a live gig and you don’t tonight; Mikal Cronin delivers frenzied pop to a sold-out and sweaty Lexington audience that works on our ears tonight but sends us straight back to MCII with a greater appreciation of just how good those songs are. Damn fine show.
Last time we saw Abjects, in June, they were nervous and tentative, taking a while to warm up and slightly longer to convince us. This time the trio are brilliant from the off – brilliant, fuzzy, dark and strange - displaying elements of punk, garage, psych-pop and rockabilly. Their excellent fuzzpop ‘Fast Love’ and awe-inspiring cover of the Pleasure Seekers’ girl-garage classic ‘What A Way To Die’ mark them out for greatness.
Brighton trio Ancient Times haven’t been together long but their erudite post-punk sound is already shaping up nicely. Most memorable, though, is George Smale’s rich voice, which gives a Morrissey lilt to everything he sings.