Different Directions: The Last Show

Written by: PP on 16/05/2007 02:19:56

Let me start off this review by saying that if you don't know Champion yet, don't hesitate any longer to buy any of their records, because they were the quintessential straight edge hardcore band out there before they disbanded early last year. Their ideals are exquisite, their music even better than that. There's something about clean vocals and intense beatdowns at punk rock speeds that just hits me, especially when it is filled with a message coming straight from your heart. Forget about the hairdo's, eyeliners and all that unnecessary crap. It has always been about the music, and Champion's live record "Different Directions" demonstrates that in awe-inspiring manner. There are very few great live albums there, the best one being NOFX's "I Heard They Suck Live", and "Different Directions" has skyrocketed to be my second favorite live album of all time. Yes, it really is that good, how many hardcore bands can sell out a venue with a capacity of 1000 - the very last show they would ever play?

Vocalist Jim Hesketh kicks off the show by calmly stating to the crowd "What's up everybody. I want to see some stage dives off that back railing" and the band follows that with a massive breakdown and jumps straight into "PK". The crowd knows every fucking lyric to this song, and Hesketh takes a few pauses allowing the crowd to shout out gang vocals - and let me just note that the atmosphere is incredibly well captured. You can hear members of the crowd shouting individually as well as you can hear them as a whole, but they are still faded to the background and most focus is placed on Hesketh's vocals and the band's instruments. The atmosphere is almost touchable on the record, and straight from the first listen I felt like I was there with the crowd, watching the band straight in front of me while throwing my fists in the air and storming around the circle pits. Every glitch is audible, just like it would be live, and the kind of honesty and passion that Hesketh is showing on the vocals transfers through incredibly well on the record. And once we reach the third track "Decisions Made" where he shouts "Lets pit, up the stairs, AROUND THE BACK SIDE, CIRCLE PIT THIS WHOLE FUCKING ROOM", you can hear people falling over and tearing apart the whole venue, while you yourself are shivering from the chills the indescribable atmosphere is giving you. I don't think I need to mention that these are some of the fastest songs you'll ever hear, I'm sure you can imagine the band tearing it apart on stage at lightning speeds by this point.

Some bands like to act like rock stars on stage, and to me, that is the ultimate insult to your fans and your listeners, especially in a live environment. If you weren't convinced about how true to the hardcore scene and how passionately honest Champion is about their music, their fanbase, and most importantly, their message, you only need to skip to the end of "Monument" to hear Hesketh at his most honest and most sermonizing state. It's as if he steps down to the crowd's level and puts his arms around them when he begins his message with "Okay so I wanna say one more thing about straight edge while I'm up here before I pass out from bloodloss" - a fact which I don't doubt a single moment after hearing him out of breath on the record. Further research shows he actually got kicked in the eye during a stage dive and had to wear an eyepatch for a week after the show. He follows it with advicing people not to become alcoholics, and let me quote "NOT a normal person, that has a glass of wine during dinner, not a person who drinks once in a while, but an alcoholic, a fucking drunk!". He doesn't sound preacherous, and he's not speaking as if he was better than you. He sounds like he truly cares about humanity and the mankind, and has all the traits of the most honest man you can possibly think. I don't want to waste space to quote the rest of his message but I was shivering throughout, as the intelligence and the utter virtue of him and the band as a whole came through so exceptionally well that it almost put tears into my eyes.

By this time you will surely have got the point. I don't usually endorse live albums but Champion's "Different Directions" has every single trait that an amazing live album has, nevermind if you like this kind of music normally or not. This is the perfect recording of a perfect show, with no unnecessary breaks in the music for crowd control or other useless gimmicks that just take time away, but just music, the message, and more music. I'll finish off with a quote from Hesketh just before they rumble into "Thank You Note": "But you know what, this hardcore thing that we all do, it teaches us something about passion, that half this world doesn't know anything about.". I agree with him wholeheartedly.


Download: Decisions Made, Monument, 116 (also known as Next Year)
For the fans of: Betrayed, Give Up The Ghost/American Nightmare, Good Clean Fun, Set Your Goals
Listen: Myspace

Release date 20.03.2007
Bridge Nine Records

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