Copenhell - 2019

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

With the exception of Skindred, the day had, despite having its ups and downs, felt a bit slow, but the Swedish hardcore legends Refused were about to change all that.

“Alright Danish fucks, we’re Refused from Umeå, and you will get fucking destroyed!”
- Dennis Lyxzén (vocals)

Their look belied their music somewhat, as they showed up in vintage 70ies style clothing, leading our expectations more down the path of something funky à la Electric Boys. As soon as the plectre hit the string, and the stick hit the skin however, all such nothing could be thrown to the wind. This was high energy hardcore from start to finish, and the performance was just as wild as the music.
Given how much he was running around all the time, not to mention his frequent jumping (and we’re talking high jumps, not your regular, lazy a few inches off the ground stuff here), it surprised me that Lyxzén had opted for a corded microphone instead of a wireless, but I guess the swinging cable could have been party of the attraction. And of course he wouldn’t have been able to swing it around all the time, if he had nothing to swing it by.

“When you’re 45 and have tight pants, it’s hard to be a revolutionary!”
- Lyxzén (vocals)

While Lyxzén held the tempo high throughout the show, we could see that his bandmates lost their wind and little by little turned the action down. Lyxzén did give them some breaks however, as he gave politically charged speeches between many of the songs, mostly on the subject of sexism in the metal scene, and why there weren’t more female artists booked at Copenhell, and festivals in general. While I partly do agree with his points, although I hold that quality should come before gender when choosing, and accepting the fact that the number of bands and artists within this genre is still predominantly male, so there’s simply more to choose from there (and don’t get me wrong, Copenhell books females as well when they come around - later in the day Halestorm would play this same stage, Heilung was showing up the day after, and we’d had a blast with L7 the year before, to name a few), I felt that Lyxzén moved from enlightening to preachy to downright boring and even hypocritical. How? Well, while he was angrily shouting at everyone else to do better to even become acceptable in his worldview, I’d like to put it like this; “How many Refused members are female, dear sir? Not a single one, past or present? Thank you, and good night.”

Stand-points aside, Refused managed to do what I expected from them, and that was to wreak havoc in the crowd. While the mid-sized group of people started out nice and calm, the wild performance and music slowly inspired more and more to get their blood pumping, and in the final act of the show there was a large moshpit kicking up the dust, and the band got a wild cheer at the end of the show.
I enjoyed the energy that Refused brought, but the music became too much of the same after a while (could possibly have been corrected if I’d known the material better), and Lyxzén’s political rants became annoying fast. So, not a total bomb, but nothing to write home about either, even though in a sense that’s exactly what I’m doing right now. Go figure.

Setlist (incomplete):

Rather Be Dead
Liberation Frequency
Dawkins Christ
Blood Red
New Noise
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen song)

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