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“’Massi,‘massi,’massi” are the chants that echo around The Fleece as Rolo Tomassi enter the stage. Tonight nearing the end of their eight date UK tour Tomassi unwrap their set with ‘Katzenklavier’ the opening track from their 2010 album ‘Cosmology’. The floor turns into chaos as a mosh is formed and splits the crowd in two, with the less ferocious taking settlement further back. Pulling each other to the floor this looks more like a pub brawl than the average mosh. The vast age range in the venue tonight may have something to do with it, the sight of the smaller, skinnier kids getting floor planted by the somewhat larger middle-aged members of the mass as they absorb the erratic nature of ‘Agamemnon’ without consciousness to the occurrence around.

Eva Spence singer and front woman of the band prances around the stage elegantly, this forms into a dramatic kind of dance then unexpectedly she outbursts into full on hardcore head bang. She’s curvy, feminine and unsurprisingly unscathed from tattoos or obvious piercings. Wearing a small, tight retro dress and tights this is not what most would call the dress code for a band of this genre. She strikes me as a heavier Hayley Williams (Paramore), a heartthrob for the hardcore. Her brother James Spence, who occasionally accompanies on vocals and plays the keys, joins Eva front stage for ‘Tongue in Chic’. For someone who looks dainty and elegant Eva’s roar is more ferocious and overpowers her brothers. Half way through the set ‘Titanomachia’ strikes this is there first stray away from ‘Cosmology’ this evening into their latest offering from ‘Eternal Youth’ the 36 track album, released just under a month ago. With a lot more to offer, the fact the tracks off this album proceed for longer enables much more progression. The sporadic timings are nervy, slow to fast, fast to slow; it takes you on a journey that could appear to be different tracks within one infinite song.

This five piece from Sheffield are continually lively on stage, I haven’t seen a band this active in its entirety for a while, their energy seems endless. The crowd are feeding off this vibe, as one of the swarm surrounding the stage climbs upon it and leaps into the mosh, despite falling to the floor he leaps straight back up with persistence and proceeds. The fact that Rolo Tomassi have brought with them their own lighting technician allows for a rhythmic procession visually that impacts the show. After playing through Mount Celestial another track from their new offering, a somewhat disjointed rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ commences between the crowd and band and Eva announces that Joe Nicholson (guitarist) is twenty two today. Unfortunately the oncoming surprise is pre-empted as someone shouts out ‘where’s the cake?’ which was not yet ready, the band continue into ‘Party Wounds’ and on the conclusion attempt again with more coherence ‘Happy Birthday’ to which this time a rather small looking chocolate cake arrives side of stage crammed with candles. Joe then quite sweetly goes round hugging his band mates on stage while the somewhat now mellowed crowd stand and cheer. They then wrap up with ‘Cosmology’. Eva states “this is the part where we go off and come back on for last song, were not going to bother with that” they play out with a track from Hysterics their 2008 release. With thanks Eva departs side of stage, whilst the boys conclude the remains of ‘Fantasia’.

For a band with this much contagious excitement, whether you like progressive hardcore or not this is a performance to check out.

Words and photos: Laura Palmer