I couldn’t tell you how many hours I would have spent listening to Millencolin as a teenager. All I can say is it was a lot. Now in my mid-twenties, I can go months without even thinking of the Swedish four piece. But my lord, when I do manage to put them on, they’re always going to be the highlight of my listening session. In town as part of their SOS album tour, Millencolin went about delivering a rapid-fire set that delivered everything their die-hard and rusted-on fans could have dreamt of.
Returning to Sydney’s for the seventh time, American band Goldfinger acted as main supports for the night, as The Roundhouse crowd poured in early. Playing a well-weighted set that would have been every 1990’s ska enthusiasts dream, the band showed no signs of slowing despite now being closer to my Dad’s age than mine. Bringing along a couple of friends to play the entire set, MXPX frontman Mike Herrera and Australia’s and The Living End legend Chris Cheney absolutely crushed their parts as the crowd were thrown back twenty plus years to what, for most of the people in the room, was almost definitely their prime (it’s not often I go to gigs now that I’m the youngest in the room, but it definitely happened for this show). A greatest hits set of sorts, those who turned up early were treated to anti-war (and for the night, anti-Trump) classic “99 Red Balloons”, as well as the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 classic “Superman”. Goldfinger, while not the headliner, delivered a fun, energetic and sweat filled set (or as front man John Feldmann said mid set “I’ve already burnt 700 calories so far”).
Returning to the country after a few years break, Millencolin showed that even after 25 years of touring, they still know how to nail and execute their live shows. Their ability to seemlessly intertwine their back catalogue shows two things: they’re still the same band and songwriters they were right back at the start, and they’ve always known how to write a downright punk banger.
From the get-go it was clear this tour was in support of SOS, as they opened with with the song of the same name (and the, you know, backdrop of the album artwork). While the album was the reason they toured, the band only played a handful of tracks off it, and even of those managed to played the lesser tracks of the album. Having reviewed the album leading up to its release, I’d have loved to hear the faster, punk driven tracks, but were left with “Yanny & Laurel” and “Sour Days”. While they definitely weren’t crafting their setlist around my tastes, it would have been nice to get a couple different songs off SOS.
One thing they did manage to do well was play a career spanning set. With a track appearing from every release, the oldest and newest of fans had something to truly satisfy their needs. The killer opening riff to “Penguins & Polarbears” was an unmistakable early highlight, as was the fun and jaunty “Fox”. Throwing it back to the the 1997 album For Monkeys, they crushed “Twenty Two”, which while is still a killer track, felt a little odd coming from a band in their mid forties (and on a selfish note, if they were to play anything off For Monkeys, I’d have frothed most on “Monkey Boogie”).
Slowing it down for “The Ballad”, front man Nikola Sarcevic provided the most sentimental and satisfying moment of the night, as the band left the stage and he proceeded to perform the track solely accompanied by the crowd (save for the last bridge and chorus). It was simple, endearing and lifted the love levels of the room tenfold. It was funny seeing middle-aged males get emotional over a song, but it was at this point you realised that the vast majority of the crowd grew up on and with Millencolin’s back catalogue. For many of those in attendance, punk music would have been one of the main things they could rely on and identify with as they grew up. For many, Millencolin would have been pivotal in shaping who they are as people. Seeing the number of content and satisfied people in the room at the end of the night, you could tell Millencolin had done well.
Playing a set in excess of 20 songs in less than 75 minutes is no mean feat, but Millencolin pulled it off. Closing on the raucous and instantly recognisable “No Cigar”, that last three minutes was a pure throwback to simpler times. My life is by no means hard at the moment, but listening to “No Cigar” live and seeing the vast majority of the crowd mosh to a song from their youth, it really does put a smile on your face. I may be being sentimental here, but I’m glad I grew up listening to Millencolin; I’m sure everyone in attendance felt the same.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Millencolin are currently touring Australia. Their final show is tonight on the Gold Coast. For more details, head HERE.