- The Waterfront, Norwich 14/2/13

Whilst everyone else in the world is off eating their Bella Italia special offer Valentine's night menu, my plus one and I have found our way to the Travelodge in Norwich, munching on Babybels from the Tesco Express and slurping wine out of mugs. The things you do for a love of music. The Waterfront does wonders to add to the romance of the occasion, particularly when support act, Axis Of, take to the stage and I see that one of them is ginger. Honestly, there is nothing that I won't do for a ginger man. I'm joking, of course. But seriously, the Northern Irish trio do have a certain presence, in the same way that Jetplane Landing or early Biffy championed the slightly aggressive manrock, so it is no shock horror that they are signed to Smalltown America or that Rock Sound are wibbling about them being 9/10 for their live shows. A raw energy and harmonic hard-hitting punk rock, bassist Ewen Friers does most of the singing and his spirit makes him interesting to watch, if not a little shy of his audience tonight perhaps. If they let themselves grow into something more than the young band that are following in their heroes footsteps, then they have the promise to be something more powerful. Their debut album is out soon. I was expecting something a bit heavier and more scary to be supporting The Bronx, to be honest, but Axis Of are still one to watch.

Heavy like Single Mothers, perhaps. No, not the single mothers that you might expect to see when you come to Norfolk (oof) but three shouty fellas from London, Ontario. I couldn't hear a word they were saying- it was just a load of screaming and loud guitars. And the fact that they split up in 2009 made me wonder why they were there anyway so I spent most of their set propping up the bar drinking Crabbies. Next!

And. Oh. Wow. The Bronx are amazingly tight. Which is excellent, what with it being Valentine's night. But, smut aside, their talent honestly does exceed that of many other punk bands that I've seen, to the point that it might be questioned how punk they actually are, being able to play their instruments and all that. What's more, they don't seem that mean. Sure; they do write music to throw yourself against a wall to, but they also appear to be the sort of guys that would smack you on the arse afterwards when helping you out of the mosh, or lightheartedly pass you a tissue to wipe the blood from your broken nose.

Not that you would trust them, as it's safe to say that they are punk in every other sense of the word- loud, extrovert and having the time of their lives, no holds barred. What I love the most about The Bronx is that they are bloody good but they don't need the pretentious shit that goes with being so bloody good. And what I love about them even more is that they are hardcore punk rock but they don't have to dump the melody at the door either. With a shambolic but charismatic frontman in Matt Caughthran- who leaps around the stage like a, well, pogoing brick shit house who is slightly drunk and has shares in its local tattoo parlour- it is completely unsurprising that the crowd worship him, to the point that, when Caughthran launches himself into the audience to start a lighthearted brawl, a girl licks his face. 'I'm trying not to have a boner', he admits, and it is this statement alone that sums up The Bronx: a group of dudes from Los Angeles, doing what they do, being themselves, drinking too much, apologising for nothing, doing things their way, just being five smelly boys on a bus living their own personal dream. If that's not punk then I don't know what is.

It's just that technically The Bronx are also brilliant- guitarists Joby and Ken thrash their hands to oblivion, bassist Brad is kind of a cool Pat Smear figure in black; drummer Jorma Vik purely knackering to watch and Caughthran's vocal power driving the kids into a frenzy, alongside a down-to-earth showmanship of audience participation. The set progresses from first date to full-blown declarations of love for the city, crowdsurfers get high-fived and hugged, a young girl is invited on stage to sing 'happy birthday' to her and they nick a man's glasses in the front row and wear them during a song before declaring him 'fucking blind, dude', all with a soundtrack of the hits that they are known for over their decade-long existence at request of the fans (the most obvious examples being 'White Guilt', 'Shitty Future' and 'Heart attack American'- named by Norwich as romantic song of the night)- and tunes that they are not yet known for, having just released their fourth album, which is another collection of punk belters, sometimes with a tinge of 80s metal.

Bringing music back to the bare essentials of good songwriting and even better old-fashioned good times- when recent single 'Ribcage' erupts, the crowd go berserk. And as Caughthran screams 'We're not here to entertain you', I think my right ear got a little fuzzier. I still can't hear properly yet. Actually one of the most entertaining and exciting bands out there at the moment, whether they are playing mariachi or not, and definitely the most memorable Valentine's I've had in a while. Worth a lick on the other cheek.

Anna C

Thanks to Haaris for sorting this fab night out for me.