A Long Time Coming: Joyce Manor – Live Review

Midway through US punk-rockers Joyce Manor’s set at Musik & Frieden, singer Barry Johnson looks sheepishly out at the crowd. “Sorry it took us so long to come back to Berlin.”

It’s been more than a few years since California’s post-punk princes graced a venue in the German capital. The crowd show appreciation by getting down early, meaning the room is mostly full for the support set from The Murderburgers. The Scottish trio frenetically fly through their songs with hardly a pause, ‘The Art of Being a Sad Sack of Shit’ proving that you don’t even have to hear these guys’ music to enjoy it.

The atmosphere further picks up from the moment Joyce Manor take the stage. Also not fans of time-wasting, in barely over 45 minutes, the band rip through what feels like almost their whole back catalogue. ‘Heart Tattoo’ makes an early appearance, one of many songs they play from 2014’s Never Hungover Again. Half the crowd know every word to most of these songs, ‘Constant Headache’ getting (of course) one of the loudest receptions of the night. The cover of The Murder City Devils’ ‘Midnight Service at the Mütter Museum’ fares well too.

Half the crowd know every word to most of these songs, ‘Constant Headache’ getting (of course) one of the loudest receptions of the night.

It’s not the biggest venue, so the fact that Joyce Manor get the crowd moving as much as they do is no mean feat (I counted 6.5 successful crowd-surfers). For a lesser-known modern punk band to get a welcome like this halfway round the world is not something we see every day.

Some newer tracks from last year’s Million Dollars to Kill Me, like ‘Think I’m Still In Love With You’ and ‘Big Lie’ are given an airing too. It’s fitting, though, that this is a night primarily about joyful nostalgia, Johnson introducing one track with “this one’s about when there weren’t many videos on YouTube”. As the night draws to a close, the band demur from leaving the stage before the encore, instead choosing to fill the time taking requests from the crowd. They gamefully make it through old favourites ‘Christmas Card’ and ‘Orange Julius’, despite Johnson admitting that his voice is barely still there.

“We’ll be back sooner next time,” we’re told, “…probably just one year… or two”.

Luke began writing about music for his university paper while studying in England’s cold, post-industrial North. He became a regular reviewer of new releases, live shows, theatre and film, before moving to the big, grey blob of London. He has written indie and electronica reviews for indieBerlin since arriving in Berlin in 2017, while pursuing other freelance writing, editing and communications projects (and struggling to learn German). You can follow Luke here and read his recent reviews here.

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