PROPAGANDHI at the Phoenix, Wednesday, September 26. Rating: NNNN
Twenty-six years into their career, Winnipeg's Propagandhi have perfected the balance between punk-rock-informed music-making and hands-on activism. The latter continues to fuel their anti-capitalist, pro-gay/feminist/civil rights, eco-warrior lyrics, which some find heavy-handed and preachy (and often just too, I don't know, on the nose).
But their last couple of albums, particularly the recent Failed States, have also given listeners the band's most complex, ambitious and interesting music to date. Ambient and dark touches of heavy metal slow down the skate-punk speed, though progressive rhythms and lightning-fast, righteous solos by singer/guitarist Chris Hannah are just as likely to catch you unawares.
At a sold-out Phoenix, Hannah's voice was crystalline and at times anthemic, delivering verbose, gut-punches of lyrics that got the crowd shouting along, moshing and stage-diving. (One guy landed a kiss on Hannah's cheek and earned an arse kick in return.) By my count, we got tunes from every album, even 1993's How To Clean Everything, when, for the final encore tune, they played Stick The Fucking Flag Up Your Goddam Ass, You Sonofabitch, which just about sums things up.