Home / Headline News / Live Review: Bad Nerves at Arts at the Armory in Somerville, MA (04.25.24)

Live Review: Bad Nerves at Arts at the Armory in Somerville, MA (04.25.24)

Punk is alive and well in the raucous craze that is British rockers Bad Nerves. The Essex-based quintet have been causing a ruckus since their 2020 debut and that fever has not broken since. 

Fresh off tour with The Hives in England, the band made their way across the pond to commence the latest leg of their “Back in the U.S.A.” tour with Wine Lips and BAABES at Somerville’s Arts at the Armory. This return marked the band’s second stop in America since last fall, where they dipped their toes into the waters of an American audience. Needless to say, there has since been a tsunami of excitement over their return, which resulted in a full-house on Thursday night’s kickoff. 

Led by enigmatic frontman Bobby Bird, it is his disarming ferocity that creates an intriguing mystique and brash sense of rebellion. Sunglasses on more often than not, he approached the crowd with a blasé manor that turned quickly into a commanding rock and roll aura. 

Tracks “Don’t Stop” and “Baby Drummer” ignited the start of the set, but there was no warm up needed. The band— comprised of Bird on vocals, guitarists William Phillipson and George Berry, drummer Samuel Thompson, and bassist Jonathan Poulton —  are primed to burst into high-gear at any moment. 

Bird’s unmistakable, piercing vocals were sung from the top of his range as he commanded the room in a distinct stride. From electric performances of “Palace,” “New Shapes” and “Electric 88,” their edgy garage rock sound infuses a hit of power pop that sent the band into a frenzy of melodious rapture. There is always just enough control amidst their outbursts of punk revelry that grounds the group in the song. 

“This is a slow one” Bird introduced “Radio Punk,” despite its upbeat nature. This, for Bad Nerves, is as slow as it gets. With a chorus so catchy, it proved impossible not to sing along, while bodies thrashed on and off the stage. 

Throughout the night, Bird’s limbs flailed along the stage as he paced from one side to the next, treating fans on either side of the room to a glance over the rims of his shades and a beguiling stare. Trashing guitars swung upwards to a 90 degree angle, and Phillipson, Berry, and Poulton launched themselves into the air. 

It is this vigor that makes Bad Nerves such a strenuous force. Each member equally pulls their weight and, more impressively, contains the live-wire energy of a bat out of hell, which has become their live paradigm.

For a band that notably doesn’t like to talk much on stage, there was still plenty of crowd interaction — but on their own terms. With blunt British humor and nonchalant swagger, Bird fended off roars from the crowd. “We’re only here for you!” one fan screamed, while another humorously demanded, “Play faster!”

Taking it as a dare, drummer Samuel Thompson never ceased to miss a beat, unleashing his fury onto the kit in an unrelenting rhythm. He remained untiring throughout the whole set, and impressively led the band through each high-charged tempo they hurtled through.

“You guys like the Ramones, right?” Bird addressed the crowd. “Well this isn’t a Ramones song. But it is a ripoff of a Ramones song, and we’re proud of that,” he introduced their biting new single “Got the Nerve.” With a countdown of “1, 2, 3, 4” they were off, tearing into their instruments as the crowd descended into the chaos of a mosh pit. The track is a callback to the penetrating punk of the 80s that helped define the genre, and Bad Nerves are not hesitant to make it their own.

The set roared on with “Mad Mind,” a brawny tune that packs a hard punch, then crowd-favorite belter “Can’t Be Mine.” Bird prompted the crowd with chants on new track “USA,” with an incantation that reminded us that he is still in control, even on our turf. 

“Dreaming” concluded the set, without the frivolity of an encore. “I don’t wanna be dead like you,” uttered on repeat, as the group surveyed the wreckage left behind. With a mess of sweaty smiles, Bad Nerves proved they can conquer any stage… even an armory. They’ve got the signature look, signature sound, and signature attitude for punk rock greatness. All that’s left is world domination, but they’re well on their way to having that too. 

Bad Nerves Online: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | TikTok | Spotify | Apple Music 

About Emma Furrier

Boston-based music writer and reviewer. Passionate about rock and roll, vinyl collecting, and any dog I’ve ever met.

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