The 2003 release, 'The Greatest Story Ever Told', marked a significant change in the attitude to how punk rock is played. Developing melody and technicality, through a more intelligent approach to music, the Lawrence Arms cracked the market again, after their well-received debut, 'Apathy and Exhaustion'. The trio, Chris, Brendan and Neil, aren’t just concerned with their studio releases: they are clocking up the miles too, with European tours included in their itinerary. This is where Pennyblackmusic found the band: Leeds, England.

One of the most difficult tasks for musicians is to transfer the same high quality of their recorded material into live shows, and vice-versa. The Lawrence Arms effect this effortlessly despite there only being the three members. Attracting a range of punks, girls in pretty tops and indie-looking kids, the Lawrence Arms know how to please them all: musically that is! Exuding confidence at every stage, without that arrogance that has been known to take over other bands, the Lawrence Arms are the complete package: full of charisma; entertaining and slick.

Eclipsing a rather sub-standard support, the Chicago-based trio has a musical imagination to which parallels would be hard to find. Melodious, almost somnambulant at times, developing into a passionate discourse between both singers; energetically rebounding off one another, from and into the crowd, the music deserves the recognition it gets and, perhaps, much more.

Comfortable with providing the audience with both new and old songs, and confident of their past efforts; what the band does superbly is capture the audience with an array of sing-a-long tunes and fiery punk rock, thus creating an immediate rapport that ebbs not throughout the night.

Illuminated by an ambient mix of red and white lighting, the Lawrence Arms articulate their feelings with aplomb, as if life weighs very little on their shoulders. Clear, precise, majestic in every song, tracks such as ‘The Raw and Searing Flesh’ and ‘The Hero Enters’ impact heavily on an absorbent audience. Of the many benefits that can be attributed to this band, one has to be their ability to let the audience draw breath before plunging back into a sought after intensity, without losing any part of the atmosphere created.

The lyrics are a major factor in what sets this band apart from the
competition. Avoiding the pitfalls of teenage fantasies and love, Chris and Brendan draw, rather, on a range of abstract, amusing and sharp lyrics. 'The Ramblin’ Boys of Pleasure’ is an apt example: "A million times a day I try to fail or fail to try, it’s an easy way to live, it’s a lifeless way to die."

No part of the evening’s performance lacked desire nor did it lack energy. Not once did any note get a chance to echo back within the packed Joseph’s Well. It is easily possible that in a few years, the Lawrence Arms will leave behind these smaller, more secluded venues for the larger, more capacious stages, where the crowds will be whipped into a frenzy each time the band walks out. For the time being, however, venues such as Joseph’s Well are there to arouse passions, and play their part in this band’s fruition.

Very few bands have the capability to enhance their image above and beyond expectation but the Lawrence Arms provided a quite superb set, full of zeal and flawless right to the last detail: watch out for Chicago’s musical answer to lethargy and ennui, coming to a venue near you soon.











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