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New Musical Express, 25 May 1985

The 14 May 1985 show at London's Camden Palace reviewed here was the first Hüsker Dü appearance outside North America. It was a one-off, played with rented equipment, and sandwiched between two US dates with no off days. This is the show that was recorded for posterity in the infamous Makes No Sense... video (follow the link for more information about both the gig and the video).

[Transcribed by Zvia Admon.]


London Camden Palace

by Richard Cook

If they played like they looked, Hüsker Dü's music would be a slobbering mastodon rock without grace or curves or beauty. But from these angry grubs come gorgeous lepidoptera that arch and sting sweetly in the ears. They are playing this earth's most magnificent rock.

It's not, as I had glancingly feared, heavy metal for sophisticats [sic]. True, they have discovered an amazing blend of the primitive and the progressive - they are like bludgeoning, deranged cavemen in calm command of technical resource. Yet the exhaustive ferocity of the music comes in a language that's poetry, an expression that runs in colours. 'Celebrated Summer,' is so crushingly beautiful on record that a foaming live performance of the song must surely tear and ruin it - instead it's, well, almost transcendent.

Almost - their 50-odd minutes in this dismal cavern took a little time to focus. Borrowed equipment may have contributed a few uncertainties, but by the half-way mark men and instruments were as one. This bitter metal howl is a sound that seems to literally pour over our ears, a glittering river of savage harmony. Their songs have the most sublime chords since The Beatles - from whom they stole a withering 'Ticket To Ride' - and the pull of the material is magnetic and mysterious.

Every moment bodes disaster - the drummer hacks absurdly at his kit, trying to pin together the torrential attack of a guitar that shames every punk player who walked a stage. Voices choking on the edge of an indecipherable roar sing charming refrains - and yes, there are two-part harmonies in there! When they strike into a blitz as pretty as 'The Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill' the song seems to scream at this treatment; but they know what they're doing. It hangs together as it has to.

In the endless thunderstorm of 'Recurring Dream' [sic], Hüsker Dü indulge their frightmares - this obliterating, all-consuming feedback is chilling. But their short takes, spliced together in a terrific blur, hold their true selves. I could be cute and call them a Buzzcocks grown huge and desperate, but they are far more. As Swans are the sound of rock finally breaking, Hüsker Dü are the noise of it crashing together again.

[note: pic of Greg jumping in the air]

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