As the previous entries in this sequence of posts have shown, there were many bands playing that day that have helped form my musical identity, bands that shaped my views, bands that are still important to me today. No one band fits that description better than New Model Army. I was aware of their earlier work, indeed I had the three albums that they had released so far but apart from the obvious singles from the first two albums, their music hadn’t exactly blown me away. 1986’s Ghost of Cain was something else though and coupled with the fact that I kept hearing that New Model Army make most sense live, I had to see this band close up.
They were going through a transition period, then again the fluid and boundary pushing nature of the band meant that they normally were but Ghost of Cain is the album that linked their harder punk roots with the windswept and emotive sound that would inform the next album, Thunder and Consolation and provide them with some of their biggest hits such as Vagabonds and The Green and The Grey. Not only was I getting to see them live, I was getting to see them at an important point in their career, though they weren’t to know it yet. New Model Army live simply blew my mind, the mix of hard, edgy music, raw passion, lyrical eloquence and musical elegance that the albums provided when played by a band full of energy, vitriol, presence and sheer force of character became a real Road to Damascus moment for me. This was a band that cared about the world, the people in it, were not afraid to rally against injustice and spoke about the smallest details of intimate relationships as easily as the terror of war, the contentment and solitude of finding yourself as easily as the madness of politics. This was a band for me and from then on they were my band, no other has seemed so important, relevant, necessary.