This is the set we've been waiting for since Titus Andronicus's September, 2010, Webster Hall gig. The Webster Hall gig was the last word on The Monitor as well as a career spanner of immense power, and while none of the other times they've played locally since have been anything less than great, they have been treading water. We've been waiting for new material. And on Monday night we got it.
Three new songs to be precise.
The first is called "Don't you Ask" and it is a waltz taken at a Ramonesy rush, very wordy, very fast, with a swirl of guitars in that trademark bagpipes style.
The next, "In A Big City" suggest where Titus is rgoing to thematically. About a guy leaving the 'burbs, let's say Glenn Ridge, New Jersey, for the greatest city in the world and embracing the good while comparing it to "a blackhole opened up wide". Oddly enough, given Patrick Stickle's well documented tussle with the Pogues, it is possibly the most Shane McGowan type song I've heard from him: an Irish jig both old and new at the same time. And, after detailing his college days in Titus first album, and his return to New Jersey after a disastrous romance ended in the second album, perhaps the third will find Patrick finding fame in nyc with Titus Andronicus.
The final of the three is (Stickles offered three names) "Food Fight" or "Man Versus Feast" or, probably the title he'll keep, "Eating Disorder". This is a great Titus song, so personal it is almost uncomfortable. It starts as a straight up hard fuck rocker until a long bluesy interlude and ending with an admonishment to "spit it out". A great song.
The band, absent the much loved ex-guitarist Amy Klein, sound very good and really, Patrick singing till he pukes ("Give a bowl" he asked the audience)?This is a rock and roll band as always.
The other songs in the show were unspeakably great as well -and not a sausage from the first album, and not really missed either. The set was built on the bricks and mortars of "Four Score And Seven" played early, "A More Perfect Union" (with a kid from the audience reciting the opening ) in the middle, and the penultimate "The Battle Of Hampton Roads" with Stickles improvising the lyric about both hating and learning to love the enemy, riffing off the final verse.
So how to you top that? With "Titus Andronicus Forever And Ever" and entire audience unwittingly foreshadowing the police invasion of Occupy Wall Street and singing along to "The enemy is everywhere".
We're losers but it's okay, we're sick and we're scared and the enemy is, indeed, everywhere. Thank God there's Titus Andronicus.