NOFX are one of those bands that anyone growing up with even the slightest interest in punk music in the 90s and 2000s will have at least a passing acquaintance with. As forerunners of the melodic punk breakthrough which would see many bands become household names they’ve never strayed far from the prunes-through-a-pensioner fast riffs and obnoxious teenage humour which endeared a generation of skateboarders and BMX-ers to their early records. Even a post-Bush turn towards leftist politics, which can seem odd so late in a band’s career, is tempered by a wry acknowledgement of the unlikelihood of this change in theme. Having not seen them since 2004 I decided it was time to catch up and determine whether they still sucked live and so, reeling from smuggled goon and after some ticket loss based drama, we headed down to the Academy in Leeds just in time to catch most of Snuff. Despite missing Abrasive Wheels and Margate, London’s finest did not disappoint; in my opinion there’s no better band within the genre, fast and funny punk rock sprinkled with cover choices both ridiculous and sublime and a line of banter which would be picked up by NOFX revolving around riling up the people of Yorkshire…class. My only bone to pick (and this may be because we turned up late and they opened with it) is that I’ve seen them twice this year, and still not heard ‘Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads’. A small complaint though, generally a stellar fucking performance which got everyone in the room hyped for the night.
After a short wait, and some general tooth-gritting at the price of a pint NOFX emerged to great uproar, and a frankly hilarious amount of devil horn mosher salutes. I can safely say that this particular hand gesture, when performed by a skinny middle aged man in a brown camo vest, could have had Ian Curtis giggling like a child. However, my judgemental cuntishness is unimportant; your reading this because you want to know if they were any good…and they were. Maybe not as good as my rose tinted nostalgia tells me the 2004 show was – but that’s coming from someone who hasn’t liked much of their output after ‘So Long and Thanks for All the Shoes’. As such the amount of newish material was a little off putting for me, despite some undeniably good picks from recent years including ‘Dinosaurs Will Die’ and ‘The Separation of Church and Skate’. I was in the minority here however, and am probably just being a dick as everyone else grinned and shouted along to every word. The abuse directed at the crowd was relentless, including Fat Mike’s slightly nervous re-telling of a story about ‘some creepy guy’ offering him half a bag of MDMA, and some undeniable classics such as ‘The Brews’, ‘Leave it Alone’ and ‘Liza and Louise’ were thrown in amongst the more recent material. Another particular highlight was the band’s reggae-style reworking of ‘Radio’ by Rancid, absolute genius. If the rest of the tour was in any way like the Leeds leg, I think that it can safely be considered a success. NOFX may have changed over the years, but are still close enough to their snotty roots to make one of their shows worth a visit, even by a jaded old bastard like me!