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Less Than Jake / Millie Manders & The Shutup – The Points, Belfast, 30th March 2022
Less Than Jake / Millie Manders & The Shutup
The Points, Belfast - 30th March 2022
It’s an inaugural gig for The Points. It’s a nicer, more natural space than the nearby Limelight, the original venue for the Belfast leg of this tour. Doors are early too, and maybe I’m imagining that the throng of Belfast’s more usually night creatures are unaccustomed to being abroad so early. Inside, there’s an expectant buzz. Millie Manders And The Shutup are back and to at the merch table and already besieged by eager fans.
From the launchpad of the driving One That Got Away onwards, Millie and the band hurtle through a blistering set of ska punk genius. While this a first visit to Belfast, the material is familiar to this heaving crowd and there’s plenty of singing back, proving that the band’s determined and engaging strategy has already endeared them to an audience that have not had the chance to experience the band live. And what an experience it is. The band are pure, joyous energy.
While Millie is super-engaging and a natural focus, the whole band is buzzing. If the subject matter is sometimes challenging or uncompromising, the music is never anything less than vital. They rock, they grind, and they skank the fuck out of this venue. With what must surely be destined to be a ska punk classic, the driving Your Story closing this way too short masterclass, it’s all over much too quickly. Massive love rapturously given and received. Feel it.
If there’s to be a manual written on How To Engage A Crowd, Florida ska punk original gangsters Less Than Jake will be the ones to write it. Where Millie Manders And The Shutup were the boisterous new kids on the block, Less Than Jake were the smooth operators, full of fun. In some respects, this show was an extended banter with the audience (“I have moustache envy, dude”), punctuated by high octane bursts of their trademark horn-driven ska punk. Chris DeMakes and Roger Lima‘s good-natured dialogues demonstrate that this is a band totally at ease in their world as they celebrate 30 years of Less Than Jake.
With such an illustrious history and back catalogue, they can afford to be self-indulgent but there’s no sign that the set list is anything other than exactly what they want to play but, more importantly, what they know the heaving pit wants to hear. Mid-set highlight was Fat Mike’s On Drugs, with a comprehensive preamble about the eponymous Mike himself (NOFX frontman and label boss of Fat Wreck Chords), but all the Less Than Jake classics are here. None less than the perennial favourite All My Best Friends Are Metalheads.
All in all, a communion with two bands with fans at the heart of everything they do. Contrasting flavours of the same dish but also a clear kinship between Millie Manders and The Shutup‘s very socially-conscious, confessional approach and Less Than Jake‘s full-on, frantic 30-year partay. A joyous night to remember.
Live photography is by Scott Bradley from Manchester’s The Ritz on the 3rd April, his Phukin Photos website is located here.