Why young punks should see legends The The
Touring for the first time in 16 years, British post-punk luminaries The The will make their Sydney Opera House debut, playing their socio-politically charged synth pop songs with lyrics that continue to resonate.
Re-opening teenage diaries of the 1980s for a masterclass in adolescent angst, these Concert Hall performances will be a rare opportunity to hear one of the most brilliantly original bands of the era.
A radical figure during Thatcher’s reign, Matt Johnson and The The were among the most critically-acclaimed and politically engaged bands of the 1980s, becoming post-punk icons of their generation alongside The Cure, New Order and Morrissey.
In 1979, Matt Johnson placed an advert in NME looking for likeminded fans of The Velvet Underground, The Residents and Syd Barrett to form a band.
From The The’s debut that same year, Johnson – singer, songwriter and all-round visionary – has anchored a band whose fluidity is reflected in their name and ever changing line-up, which has included Johnny Marr of The Smiths, Sinéad O’Connor, Neneh Cherry and Jools Holland.
Ground-breaking albums such as Soul Mining (1983), Infected (1986), Mind Bomb (1989) and Dusk(1992) positioned them as an outsider group with a social conscience.
The The’s last live performance was at the David Bowie-curated Meltdown in 2002. Over the ensuing 16 years, Johnson only released two singles, while sporadically contributing to film soundtracks and art installations.
Now returning in full force with a sold-out series of London concerts at Royal Albert Hall, Brixton Academy and the Troxy, The The have just released a new single We Can’t Stop What’s Coming, from Johnson’s latest film project, The Inertia Variations.
Matt Johnson said for the 2018 tour he wanted to strip down many of the songs and actually reduce the sonic palette.
“We won’t be using any samplers, click-tracks, sequencers or synthesisers,” Matt said.
“The songs are not intended to be a reproduction of the album versions, and many of them don’t sound like they do on the old recordings. Some of the songs do, but if people really want to hear the albums, they should just put on headphones and listen to the albums.”
Joining Matt Johnson on the Concert Hall stage performing reinterpretations of his back catalogue will be original musicians from each of their previous world tours, together creating an exciting new chapter for one of the most innovative voices in post-punk.
Picture: Thomas Feiner