Touring their fantastic new album, ‘Unbroken’, the band ended their UK and European tour in London, playing extensively from the release. Remaining founding member Justin Sullivan was joined by his band of Dean White (guitar), Ceri Monger (bass) and Michael Dean (drums) as well as a keyboard player.

They opened on the album with their single ‘Coming or Going’, although it would have made more sense to start on its opening track and first single, ‘First Summer After’, which soon followed; the deafening drums played by Michael Dean elevated on a raised platform, was appropriate given their significant part on the loud production of the album, procured by producer Tchad Blake.

NMA moved onto more songs from the new album, with ‘Language’ and the Burundi beats and croaking, combing guitar of ‘If I Am Still Me’; although the former’s dark spoken-word interlude narrated by Sullivan was sadly less audible. They next played from 2013’s ‘Between Dog and Wolf’, with ‘Stormclouds’, featuring similarly loud tribal drumming and thunderous drum duets between Dean and Monger.

Following an onstage powercut and Sullivan criticising the binary computer age – a big theme on the new release – the band continued on the new tracks with ‘Cold Wind’, a dark waltz with synth strings, before going back to tracks from NMA’s 1989 album, ‘Thunder and Consolation’, which marks its 35th anniversary, performing the melodic chant of ‘Green and Grey’. They returned again to the new album with ‘Idumea’, its unusual, minimalistic sound exposing skipping drumbeats against gospel chorals.

NMA performed one of the finest songs on ‘Unbroken’, the Brexit themed ‘Reload’, complete with the dizzying keyboard, which it was nice to see they had bothered to include, and ‘Angry Planet’, both played with petrol loaded, chainsaw guitar. They finished their main set on ’90s material with the synth dances of ‘Purity’ and the explosive ‘What a Wonderful Way to Go’, with an encore of their early singles ‘Bittersweet’ and ‘No Rest’. Despite an angry, detonative set, the band missed off their main single, ‘I Did Nothing Wrong’, on this tour, which seemed like a huge oversight and retracted slightly from what was otherwise the best show of the year, following the best album of the year.

11/05/24: New Model Army @ Roundhouse, London.

Photos © Anna Marchesani/Nocturna Photography.

© Ayisha Khan.