It was a special night for two of the bands playing launched new singles at this gig – Venus ‘Sour’ and Purple Thread ‘I’m All About You’ – and the venue is fuller than I’ve seen it for both the first support acts and Purple Thread and Venus. It’s also a special night for me, I’m getting to see one of my favourite bands – Purple Thread – a band I really like – Weekend Recovery – and a band that’s new to me – Last Reserves – and you know how I love seeing new bands. And Venus of course. ‘Sour’ just blew me away completely so I was really looking forward to seeing them for the first time.
Given that I’d never even heard of Last Reserves before seeing them on the line-up I had absolutely no idea quite what to expect. What I heard just blew me away. For Last Reserves are punky, real punky, 70s’ punky and loud. But the thing about this band is the voice of their singer Alice Nancy, a voice that reminds me of all kinds of original female punk singers I loved back in the day. That voice is fantastic.
And the music is raucous and loud, it’s basically frill free apart from the odd guitar freakout. But that’s not a bad thing when it’s played this well. This band are tight people. And just to amp up that 70s’ punk vibe the songs come with a message, they mean something they are about real and important things – mental health services, friends that let you down.
And this band are crazy, every song is full of mad mad dancing and crazy crazy playing. At times I just stood there transfixed forgetting that I had to take pictures or write notes. I urge you to catch this band, catch this band if you like loud raucous music that just makes you want to throw yourself round like a crazy thing, catch this band because visually they are amazing and catch this band if you want songs that make you think.
So it’s the second time I’ve seen Weekend Recovery and they are as good as the first time I saw them play at Santiago’s. I say as good but actually they sound better than I remember, they seem more out there, more roar-y and louder.
And the bass player is doing that curtain of hair thing which I have admit I’ve fallen a little bit in love with. And I pick up on one thing I’d failed to pick up on the first time which is that Lori is one damn fine guitar player, and that her voice is better than I remembered. This may be down to the PA system at The Wardrobe of course.
It also confirms what I thought when I first saw them – that they sound garage-y punky, I know that they describe themselves as a garage grunge band, but that’s how I hear them. Their set is fast and furious, they just set out to play and play loud and fast. But in all of it there is nuance, touches of guitar, bass that just doesn’t do that rumble.
Seeing this band play live is fun, it’s music to dance to, to mosh to, but you can, should you wish, just stand and listen to, it’s equally as good for both.
This time Lori introduces ‘On Your Knees’ as being about anything other than blow-jobs. A fellow photographer turned to me and said is this song about what I think it is, and I said yep, and she said that when she introduced it, although she did that in a rather strange way. And it’s as great as I remember.
The crowd were sadly a little reluctant to actually mosh, even when Lori plunges off the stage and into the crowd. I wanted to but couldn’t, you can’t with a huge camera in your hand. But the crowd were getting into it, responding to that glorious loudness and beat. Weekend Recovery are a band I want to see again when I’m not reviewing or taking pictures.
And now to one of favourite bands, Purple Thread. The first gig I saw them play I was completely transfixed and completely unable to be objective about what I hearing and seeing. So I kinda forced myself to try really hard to be that at this gig. At least that was the intention.
In the opening seconds of their set I again driven to heights of excitement as Liz picks up her guitar and starts to play. And again it’s a glorious all out joyful sound of beautiful noise. That slightly bluesy funky punky thing thing that they do is just so good. And it confirms in my head that Liz is the just the coolest front-person with the most fab voice. Even though she said she was battling through a hangover that voice is fine, damn fine. And it doesn’t stop her bouncing round the stage like a mad thing.
The new single – ‘I’m All About You’ is rocker than the release, it has more of raucous edge. But I knew that it would live somehow. And it gains from that people, it drives like shit.
And as the band swoop into ‘Something Good’ I feel my soul lifted, I revel in that dirty bluesy swampy sound. The recorded version is fantastic but live it’s too good, you just can’t help feeling you need to get down to it. ‘Life’s A Drag’ rocks, it’s so so funky, the bass fucking throbs people. The false ending thrills. And with their closing song ‘Going Back To New York City’ the music urges us to lose our shit completely. Absolutely fantastic end to their set.
Venus, people, Venus. Even what people had told me about them live didn’t prepare me for what I saw and heard. From the moment they start all I can do is stand and watch and listen. It is astoundingly good, out of this world good. It is so good I can’t drag my eyes away from them. I manage to take pictures but not take notes.
I still don’t know how to describe what they do – I tried in my review of ‘Sour’ – but it’s Riot Grrrl with synths, it’s punky, it’s raucous and wild. But over all of that is Grace’s voice. She can sing, I understate that you understand. She can go from pure to all out rawness. She has this presence that means you just can’t take your eyes off her.
It may be loud, it may be raw, it may be raucous but it’s tight, the sound this band make is just so so good. And the songs are great, they have meaning, they’re about things. Hearing them live you get phrases of those songs, but I want to go and find words as a result. And this is band who let the music do the talking, sure Grace strikes a pose but it’s complimentary to the music they make. It’s not just a stage act.
Venus are one of my new favourite bands, within seconds of the set starting I’d decided that. I want to see them do what they did again and again. I was stunned. I was left breathless and slightly dizzy with excitement. I wanted them to play their whole set again just so I could experience it again. And experience is what it felt like, it was more than just a band playing a set, it had impact. This is a band that engage you on all levels – musically, visually, and with your mind.
Look just go and fucking see Venus. See them and be dizzy with excitement. Listen to what they play and be astounded with the rawness, the tightness, just the all out greatness of it. I gush but what they do deserves gushing. Like everyone I know who told me to go see them, I will be urging people to do that now. I will find it difficult to encapsulate in words why and I might have to resort to ‘just go see them, you won’t regret it’.
All photos in this review © Frank Roper Photography – More on Frank Roper Photography Facebook Page