New Model Army on the march again - autumn 2011 dates available now

Posted: 16th June 2011
New Model Army - Image:

"The time I think most clearly, the time I drift away / Is on the bus ride, that meanders, up these valleys of green and grey". It is from the New Model Army anthem, 'Green and Grey' and, on this lyric, hung my teenage years. The soundtrack to the late eighties might have been acid house or baggy, but for us, the narrative belonged to Justin Sullivan and his band of folk-rock vagabonds from Bradford.

In 1989, everyone in Britain seemed to be angry about something (or maybe that's how it always appears to a generation's teenagers); some chose to riot, others stretched their brains with MDMA, a number swore never to pay the impending Poll Tax and a few looked to the obscure lyrics of crusty northerners in search of meaning.

But teenagers are always rebelling, always looking for an explanation, always jauntily writing 'F*ck the system!' on their chemistry folders. And lyrics are, well, just words. But then Samuel Beckett said that 'words are all we have' and the New Model Army were different. Weren't they?

Named after the civil war's hardcore Parliamentarian militia, the New Model Army closeted their melodies in references to disillusion, disenchantment and the worship of Mamman - the creed of greed. They spoke of a broken England, of fights in taxi ranks on Friday nights, of unfulfilled dreams and the rape of the planet.

Just perfect for teenagers craving meaning: "Give me some place where I can go / Where I don't have to justify myself / Swimming alone against this tide". That's from 'Family' on 1989's epic 'Thunder & Consolation' and is a credo for youth everywhere.

But the New Model Army have been minstrels of the embittered and world-weary for more than 30 years and now have their own army to call upon. Following last year's 30th anniversary tour and a hectic couple of years, the band has announced a handful of dates for autumn 2011.

New Model Army play The Empire in Middlesbrough on 12th October, then Edinburgh, Northampton, Bridport and finally Cardiff on 16th October. Tickets are available now, priced £18.50.

Ahead of that, there's performances at the Rock and Bike Festival 2011 in Leicestershire (16th July) and the Endorse it in Dorset 2011 festival (13th August).

I'd go but I think I might cry.

Stewart Darkin