Photos by Merideth C. & Review by Dave Gillhespy
I first heard Refused in 2001 when a friend in college let me borrow his CD collection. From the first time I heard “They say the classics never go out of style, but they do, they do. Somehow baby, I never thought that we to do” I was hooked. I sat at my computer and listened to the entire “The Shape of Punk to Come” album 3 times in a row before going to bed. For the next month, it was the only thing I listened to (to the chagrin of my Britney Spears loving roommate).
At a time when the world seemed to be falling apart and in the midst of my own journey from socially conservative republican to socialist fag-loving pc scumbag, “I got a bone to pick with capitalism, and a few to break” was the anthem that held things together for me. Every word of every song on that album was vital to my transitioning political thought process.
When I learned that the band had already broken up 3 years before I had even heard them, I was crushed. I knew that I would never be able to see what had become my all-time favorite band performing live. Fast-forward 11 years and the one thing I was certain would never happen, did. Refused announced that they would be touring one last time and luckily they would be coming to Royal Oak, MI.
The crowd could hardly wait for Refused to take the stage. Everyone around me as I waited in the pit was beaming. The anticipation was amplified by a low constant humming sound and a black curtain hanging in front of the stage that was eventually backlit to reveal the letters spelling REFUSED. The humming stopped and lead vocalist Dennis Lyxzén spoke the name of the opening song “Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull.” The curtain dropped to the floor and the crowd went completely nuts and never stopped through the 14-song set.
I have never had as much fun at a show as I did in that pit. Fans who had never met before were turning to each other and screaming the lyrics while holding bunches of each other’s shirts in their hands. If someone fell, they were immediately picked back up and thrown back into the mix. Everyone was soaked through with sweat and relishing every moment as if this were the last night of their lives. Refused hammered through all of our “The Shape of Punk to Come” favorites like “Liberation Frequency,” “The Deadly Rhythm,” “Refused are Fucking Dead,” and “New Noise.” They also played a few older favorites like “Rather Be Dead” and “Circle Pit.”
If anything could match the intensity of the crowd, it was the band members themselves on stage. Every one of them was giving everything they had. If you were afraid that they would sound older or unrehearsed, you had nothing to worry about. Dennis stood on the monitors and went into the crowd many times, even standing on the hands of the fans at one point. Drummer David Sandström, even though he was sick, was insanely loud and fast. Bassist Magnus Flagge and guitarists Kristofer Steen and Jon Brännström never stood still the entire show. It was obvious they were enjoying this chance to play again as much as we enjoyed watching.
I am not much of a fan boy, and certainly not the kind of person who waits outside by the tour bus to catch a glimpse of a band, but doing so paid off when Merideth and I met and talked to Jon for 20 minutes and he invited us to cover the show in Chicago the next night.
Instead of moshing in the pit, I decided to hang back on the sides and take the show in from a different perspective. The Congress Theater in Chicago is much larger than Royal Oak Music Theater, so the intensity of the crowd was a little less condensed, but the joy at seeing Refused was just as strong. They played basically the same set, except about midway through, Dennis invited Keith Morris of OFF! to the stage to play “Police Story” and “Nervous Breakdown,” by Black Flag, the band he started in the 70’s.
The show ended with Dennis telling the crowd “Don’t ever let anyone tell you how to dance or what fucking music to listen to. This is the only chance we get. This is not a rehearsal. Always remember to stay fucking wild!” The band members came together at the front of the stage with their arms around each other’s shoulders and took a bow as the crowd cheered.
These were two of the greatest nights of my life. I never imagined I would have the opportunity to see Refused live yet I got to see them twice and meet and hang out with some of the members after the shows. They are all genuinely nice, humble guys and deserve all of the love the fans have for them. Dennis has already said this tour is a “one-off” and will shortly come to an end. If you haven’t seen them yet, please do not make the mistake of missing it. You will regret it for the rest of your life. Refused are NOT fucking dead!
Download songs from this set list by clicking the iTunes icon!
- Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull
- The Refused Party Program
- Liberation Frequency
- Rather Be Dead
- Coup d'état
- Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine
- The Deadly Rhythm
- Hook, Line and Sinker
- Circle Pit
- Police Story (Black Flag cover with Keith Morris)
- Nervous Breakdown (Black Flag cover with Keith Morris)
- Refused Are Fucking Dead
- Life Support Addiction
- The Shape of Punk to Come Encore:
- New Noise
- Tannhäuser / Derivè