@Newcastle Think Tank?, July 13 2015
Playing on the same night as label mate PJ Bond, many fans of Xtra Mile artists had a tough choice to make before the show: the storytelling, acoustic approach of PJ, or the loud, politically fuelled Crazy Arm.
For real punk fans there was no choice to be made and the Plymouth-based fivepiece were greeted by a lively crowd of passionate fans for a Monday night show following two strong opening acts in the shape of Restorations and Sam Russo.
Coming on in their traditional black, bar staff-styled stage uniforms, Darren Johns and co. wasted no time in launching into a set filled with a mix of old and new. With Darren’s soft, gravelly vocals giving Crazy Arm’s anger a warming edge, combined with the Irish influence of Luke Yates’ fiddle, the band’s diverse style must surely warrant a larger audience than the 30 to 40 that show up in each town.
Despite the underappreciated combination of Gaslight Anthem, Wolfe Tones and Against Me, the small crowd were real fans who sang each word back with aplomb. With their politically soaked lyrics, and the band’s dissatisfaction with fascism/neo nazism and the EDL’s fight to ‘protect England’, the five piece got the blood boiling with fan favourite Song Of Choice. Ramping up his showmanship, and ability to inspire crowd interaction, Darren Johns shouted: “Give me a name, someone you hate, and I’ll make it work!”, leading to a shout out for David Cameron, and thus came about the altered version of Cameron the Neo Nazi.
Political lyrics aside, Crazy Arm are an act that bring huge amounts of energy to the stage with all five members adding backing vocals and interacting with the crowd between songs, meaning that awkward, feedback-filled silence was avoided. This unity was, perhaps, held together by Yates’ joker like spirit, which spreads into the audience to create a relaxed atmosphere despite the band’s fight against a ‘fucked up world’.
While Song Of Choice may have got the blood boiling and the crowd united, it was Tribes and Broken By The Wheel that were truly met with the best response as the crowd were brought to the front for an intimate finish to the show. As bassist Nathan Stevens lead the clap, the crowd sang along to round off a night that was brought to a halt with everyone left a little surprised at the lack of an encore.