Shoot the Neds! In Concert

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The crowd, for its part, never stops moving, churning as one fist-raising, pogo-jumping mass.

 NED'S ATOMIC DUSTBIN: SHOOT THE NEDS! IN CONCERT (Secret Films)

Nostalgia can be a weird, wonderful beast. Intrinsically linked in a fan’s mind, a movie, TV show, or band can elicit rich memories from the subconscious, even from seemingly silly little diversions that many have long since forgotten. This, my friends, is why H.R. Pufnstuf is available on DVD, and also why 5,000 rabid fans crowded JB’s, Dudley in 2001 for the reunion of a little British band called Ned’s Atomic Dustbin.

An integral part of the difficult to categorize grebo movement—which included such bands as the Wonder Stuff, EMF, and I Love the ’90s icons Jesus Jones, whom Ned’s supported on their first American tour—Ned’s created a huge splash in the early ’90s British music scene on the strength of singles like “Grey Cell Green” and “Kill Your Television” from their 1991 debut, God Fodder. Ned’s made their mark thanks to their distinctive sound, which came about completely by accident. As recounted on the bonus interview included on the Shoot the Neds! DVD, singer Jonn Penney invited four friends to join him in the nascent band, not realizing that all four played bass. A few instrument shifts later, Ned’s retained two bass players, with Alex Griffin playing the main melodies (“only using the thin strings, in layman’s terms,” he jokes) and Matt Cheslin providing the more traditional rhythm bass part, while guitarist Gareth “Rat” Pring bridged between the two.

Ned’s broke up in 1995 after changing musical tastes in both the States (the rise of grunge) and the United Kingdom (the Blur/Oasis Brit-pop explosion) left them without a record label, leaving few hopes for a reunion. In 2001, however, three of Ned’s founding members (Penney, Griffin, and drummer Dan Worton) reformed for a one-off gig to celebrate the 30th anniversary of JB’s, the location of their first proper gig. The huge success of the reunion lead to more shows, including the 2002 concert captured on Shoot the Neds! The concert finds the band in fine form, playing as a much tighter, more cohesive unit than one would expect after a six-year break.

The set list leans heavily on material from the band’s first and last albums, God Fodder and 1995’s Brainbloodvolume. Opening with “Not Sleeping Around,” the lead single from middle brother LP Are You Normal?, the band immediately fires on all cylinders and doesn’t let up for one minute of the DVD’s economical 65-minute runtime. The crowd, for its part, never stops moving, churning as one fist-raising, pogo-jumping mass. The band pulls out the big guns early with a huge chunk of God Fodder tracks (“Cut Up,” “Selfish,” the crowd scream-along “Capital Letters”), hits a steady groove for the concert’s middle third, then finishes the main set strongly with “Kill Your Television” (their biggest American hit) and the Brainbloodvolume closer “Song Eleven Could Take Forever.”

The DVD, while not compelling enough for frequent viewing, does a solid job of recording the show for posterity. The camerawork and video editing are stellar, and the sound quality is exceptionally high. The show was recorded in 5.1 surround sound and sounds killer on a great set of speakers, but can get a mite echoey if you’re unfortunate enough to watch in mono. While the concert is great, the most vital portion of the DVD is the bonus interview, a 40-minute in-depth discussion of the band’s entire career, recounting their early days, their messy break-up, and their recent, tenuous reformation. Penney, Griffin, and Worton recall their history with good humor and complete honesty, making a compelling document that is a true must for all fans lucky enough to have many fond memories of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s brief visit to American shores. 

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