If you don’t know who NoMeansNo are don’t consider yourself completely out of the punk loop. But it does mean you’ve managed to miss out on one of the most consistent and prolific North American punk bands ever, so I guess you’re a little out of the loop.
They formed in 1979, in Victoria, Canada, have produced 12 albums (one with Jello Biafra at the helm), six EPs and a smattering of singles, DVDs, Live albums and best of’s. They’ve never made an album with an orchestra, have never gone on ‘hiatus’, never made a concept album or had a member die an untimely drugs-related death and never got much money or recognition for what they do. They’ve even been credited with the invention of math-rock (according to Wikipedia anyway), have been quite a big influence on Propagandhi and have never produced a bad album. Every album is different but still obviously NoMeansNo. So to cut a 30 year story short: they are amazing, have a small but devoted following and they are old.
Their tour is even called ‘Old’ and the opening (unreleased) song was called Old; and it’s even possible they are literally three times the age of your favourite band; therefore theatrics and gymnastics were never to be expected. What we got was three balding, pot bellied, sweaty and bespectacled middle aged men who wandered onto stage looking completely at home and who played like demons with a tightness only 30 plus years of playing together can give you.
The first half went really well, the band seemed into it, and the crowd were jumping about like teenagers. Plenty of energy. However, 45 minutes in the Tom Holliston, the guitarist, suddenly disappeared and the Jon and Rob Wright, the bassist and drummer respectively, kicked their heels and chatted amongst themselves without apparent thought or concern that a few hundred people were eagerly waiting on their every note and word. They came back a couple times to say Tom was having an asthma attack (told you they were old) but eventually disappeared for good.
The three came back for the second half, but the energy seemed to have left with Tom’s and the second half just didn’t grab anyone’s attention in the way the first part of the set had. By the end it seemed like they were just going through their paces. But I guess that’s what you risk when you see three 60 year old men on the last date of a long European tour.