Published Apr 25, 2011When Crass vocalist Steve Ignorant announced his intentions to tour performing songs from the legendary D.I.Y. punk rock outfit's canon under the Last Supper banner, mixed sentiments abounded. Some purists hated the notion of Ignorant "cashing in" on his legacy while the majority realized it was a chance to fire up the Mohican and dust off the crusty pants for one final round.
Stepping into Toronto's Opera House to a sea of unwashed street dwellers mingling with aging scenesters struggling to make the best punk 'do out of their receding hairlines, it was clear that Hogtown fit into the latter category. We were all keen to hear the seminal band's music as performed here for the first and last time by their inimitable front. Moreover, having forged a set list focusing solely on the act's intensely productive 1977 to 1981 years, the airs of "greatest hits" and bubbling enthusiasm were as thick as the layers of dirt on virtually every body in the room.
Taking to the stage with humble excitement, local trio Terminals set about to the daunting task of warming up this unruly mob with hearty gusto. Hammering away at their barbarically pelvic old-school punk culled from years of ignoring anything post-first wave, their energetic tension created an edgy string of hyperactive songs and upbeat spirit. Graciously accepting, the swelling audience clearly identified with their simplicity and unrefined grit.
Following up with their own unique take on the genre, colleagues Class Assassins provided the perfect advancement from their buddies' barebones attack. From streamlined tunes with unforgettable melodies to sturdy rhythms, graceful leads and an overall sense of refined experience, their own set seemed intensified by Terminals' nervous vitality. Even in the face of adversity, including technical difficulties and patrons who couldn't connect with their more anthemic approach, the quintet were solid, active and aurally brawny.
At that, few were prepared for the seamless power and impeccable delivery of Steve Ignorant and crew. Doing away with much of Crass's aesthetic overload, Ignorant and a skeleton crew composed of a drummer, guitarist, bassist and young female vocalist shot out of the gate with "Punk Is Dead," relying solely on a modest video screen projecting images of the front in earlier days, the band's formative years and obligatory socio-political messages. Incited by the pummelling tune, the Opera House instantly became a sea of raised fists, clashing carcasses and screaming. Continuing through the aforementioned "hits" package, songs such as "How Does It Feel?", "Do They Owe Us a Living" and "Bloody Revolutions" were met with zealous raucousness.
Still, due to the overt lack of everything from movement to interaction with the crowd -- both Ignorant and his vocal counterpart were rather stoic while singing and rarely spoke between songs -- a slight tinge of ennui slowly crept into the affair. Yes, the band were flawless and hearing Crass tunes via their original voice proved engaging, but even a bit more intimacy would have made this virtually perfect. As is, when the lights came up, the Last Supper felt more like another hole punched in the punk rock ticket than the life-changing experience/nostalgic fulfillment we all hoped it would indelibly provide.