REVIEW: Lostprophets, Rock City

Reporter Andrew Trendell caught up with Lee Gaze from Lost Prophets
Reporter Andrew Trendell caught up with Lee Gaze from Lost Prophets

THE Guardian’s Graham Smyth reviews Lostprophets at Rock City, Nottingham.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

It’s a full decade since I first saw Lostprophets play live, and on Monday night at Rock City in Nottingham they attempted to prove they can ‘still kill the old way’.

Ian Watkins and company, decked in uniform work shirts and tshirts, have retained their ability to extract a fervent, almost hysterical response from their ever-devoted followers.

And although many in attendance would have been in primary school when Thefakesoundofprogress was released, even the youngest in the pit appeared to know every word to every song.

The set featured five tracks from new album Weapons, the fifth studio offering from the Welshmen, and they got a decent reaction.

But the killer moments were all provided by older material.

Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja was undoubtedly the highlight, the song that saw them explode in popularity just after the millennium, turning Rock City into a seething mass of bodies.

From second album Start Something, the hit single Burn Burn was well received, and the crowd repeatedly begged for We Are Godzilla, You Are Japan – going into raptures when the band finally obliged after teasing the intro several times.

The 2009 single It’s Not the End of the World, But I Can See It from Here had Watkins tell the audience they were ‘in fine voice’ and typified the gang vocal, singalong feel of the performance.

As their almost two-hour long set progressed it seemed as if Watkins relied more and more on the crowd, and bandmate Jamie Oliver.

The frontman, who was hospitalised recently with a problem with his ribs, pulled out of high notes, signing more attainable harmonies or aiming his mic in the direction of the audience.

He also resorted to a loud hailer in Better Off Dead but much of the staccato rap style verses were lost through a lack of volume.

At times he was more choirmaster than vocalist, and he was in danger of being drowned out by the band and the crowd, but such is his appeal that the 34-year-old only has to raise an arm and his baying public respond favourably.

From the midpoint of the gig Watkins appeared to loosen up and the interaction between those in the pit and those on the stage increased, his dry sense of humour keeping everyone entertained between songs.

The energy levels remained almost constant until the very end, bassist Stuart Richardson in particular showing no loss of love for live performance, head banging to every song and grinning ear to ear.

A three song encore ended with Sway, allowing the rhythm section to bring the set to a moody close as Watkins left the stage, followed one by one by his bandmates.

In the 10 years I’ve been following the band’s progress, with gigs in Sheffield, Leeds, Doncaster and Nottingham, they’ve lost none of the swagger.

And while the new stuff just doesn’t grip me, their older material clearly hasn’t lost any of its appeal and they manage to stay relevant.

Fast forward to 2022 and they might be a little sick and tired of rolling out the ‘classics.’

But I’ll probably be happy enough to go along and stand at the back, nodding in nostalgic appreciation as yet another generation of Lostprophets fans go wild in the pit.

Here’s to another 10 years.

By Graham Smyth.