Lagwagon

support Belvedere
author PP date 31/07/22 venue Hotel Cecil, Copenhagen, DEN

More than two years in the making, the scheduled Lagwagon show at the cozy interiors of Hotel Cecil finally gets the go-ahead here in 2022. The band has been busy shuttling across Europe in two phases, first during June for the prime festival season, and now for a second stint that includes several club dates like tonight's intimate surroundings. At a capacity of just 350, Hotel Cecil is the smallest venue I've had the chance to see Lagwagon play at, so expectations are naturally high, especially since the show is sold out and this is the first live tour since the release of their career masterpiece "Railer" just before Corona.

Belvedere

Belvedere

Lagwagon's European tour this summer has seen them slot in a huge variety of punk bands of varying stature as the warm-up band. For the Scandinavian part of the tour, that honor goes to legendary Canadian breakneck speed technical punkers Belvedere. I've seen them multiple times before but always at festivals, and the larger stages just don't give their complex and rich soundscapes any justice, which is also why they sound so much better at Hotel Cecil tonight. "So we're just gonna plow through 40 mins of songs, eh?", vocalist Steve Rawles informs us in charmingly Canadian fashion, which is exactly what Belvedere does afterward. But unlike previous times I've seen them, tonight's show is jam-packed with aggressive headbanging, swirling scissor kicks, jumps, and great, technical melodies that, for once, get the high-quality mix they deserve from the soundboard. The vocals come across loud and crisp, resulting in exactly the kind of duel against the complex guitars as you might remember from their records.

Belvedere

Steve Rawles is in a great mood, which quickly rubs onto the front rows of the packed crowd. His trademark style of mouth-wide-open rapid headbanging looks fantastic, creating an impression that he's having the time of his life playing in front of this crowd right now. "Quicksand" is one of the highlight tracks of the set with its catchy "It must be closer than it seems to a total fiasco" segments, while "Excuse Me, Can I Use This Chair" is a high-energy onslaught of ridiculously fast skate punk with catchy vocals just like on the 2001 album.

Belvedere

Forty minutes later, the band has thrashed through a crazy amount of songs where it frankly does start feeling a little bit monotonous. Some spacing would help here, but either way, the small stage, and a great sound do the band wonders. Once they're done with their set, it feels like we've just watched a set that's best described as peak Belvedere.

Lagwagon

"We're called Lagwagon, and these are songs", Joey Cape opens the Lagwagon set in his signature style of wry humour that you can also see on their classic merchandise, such as their 'putting music in its place' t-shirts that depict a vinyl being deposited in a garbage can. Apparently, he's feeling a little under the weather so we're not about the get the same amount of jokes as he usually fires off on stage, save for a few short remarks on this being the tenth anniversary of Tony Sly's tragic passing before "Heartbreaking Music" being dedicated to him.

Lagwagon

But that's okay, we're here to celebrate one of the best skate punk bands the genre has ever seen so the more songs we can squeeze in, the better. Especially given that their last three albums, "Railer", "Hang", and "Resolve" are among the very best they have written to date.

But that's not what's on the menu tonight, unfortunately. It's the 25th anniversary of Double Plaidinum, so instead, we are treated to a setlist of mostly rarities and deep cuts that the band plays extremely rarely live. "Move The Car" from "Hoss", for example, has only been played on a handful of tours since the 90s. Same for "Wind In Your Sail" which is on the b-sides album "Let's Talk About Leftovers". "Smile", "Failure" and "To All My Friends" likewise are "Double Plaidinum" songs that haven't been played for a couple of decades save for an odd show here and there.

Lagwagon

To some extent, that's a really cool approach. Given the average age of this crowd, countless people in attendance here probably have been waiting for the better part of their adult lives for a chance to hear some of these tracks live. And you know what? The material from "Blaze" isn't bad. These songs are on classic skate punk albums that helped define the genre heydey, so what's there to complain about?

Well, for starters, there's a rather big divide between tracks like "Alien 8", "Making Friends" or "Smile" and between ones like "E Dagger" or "Lullaby". You can see and feel it in the crowd. The sing-alongs are at their loudest and the stage dives at their most aggressive during the former, whereas the venue feels like it is in waiting mode during the latter. Just like "Violins" wakes up the crowd after the first few songs for a wild pit and a thunderous sing-along, "Sleep" and "Razor Burn" do the same towards the end of their set. The latter two in particular help lift the set from mediocrity into that beloved punk rock community feeling we all yearn for.

Lagwagon

That divide does not exist on the last three albums which are end-to-end classics. So despite ending on a high note with "May 16" closing the set, and with full understanding that this is designed to be a back catalogue deep dive rather than a hit parade, you can't help but wonder why the incredible "Railer" tracks don't get the time they deserve three years after the album's release. "Jini", "Dangerous Animal" and "Stealing Light" are some of the greatest Lagwagon tracks written to date. Ditto with songs of "Hang" and "Resolve". To omit them altogether just doesn't feel right.

Lagwagon

But even if you discount the above, tonight's Lagwagon showing feels only decent. There's a long lull in the middle in terms of songs, and with Joey not being his usual funny self, the set just doesn't live up to their hilarious set at Roskilde Festival '06, which is the last time they played in Denmark unless I'm mistaken. Or to their Groezrock 2015 performance for that matter.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. After You My Friend
  • 2. Falling Apart
  • 3. Move the Car
  • 4. Violins
  • 5. Weak
  • 6. Never Stops
  • 7. E Dagger
  • 8. Wind in Your Sail
  • 9. Smile
  • 10. Give It Back
  • 11. Lullaby
  • 12. Failure
  • 13. Heartbreaking Music
  • 14. To All My Friends
  • 15. Sleep
  • 16. Razor Burn
  • --Encore--
  • 17. Alien 8
  • 18. Making Friends
  • 19. May 16

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen

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