The Coathangers / The Thermals

Manchester Roadhouse

30th March 2011

Girls like this make me want to weep. All magazine-slick beauty, legs up to their eyeballs and hair swooshing over their guitars, catching the light, it’s so smooth. But they’re trash-can ugly, too. Clanging, ham-fisted on synths and picking out primary school guitar solos. It’s not that they can’t play ”¦ it’s not a ”˜so-bad-they’re-good’ punk rock scenario”¦ they play when they need to play. And they’ll play with your mind: you’ll catch yourself thinking unholy thoughts like ”˜if only Mika Miko didn’t take themselves so seriously they could be as fun as The Coathangers”¦’ It’s those Myra Hindley band stickers, making me think bad thoughts, I swear.

The Coathangers are bold and aggressive: whatever the femme equivalent of ”˜cocksure’ should be. We could argue that one for hours. They swap instruments, trade places, never resting on their laurels and giving yours a damned good shake whilst they’re at it. The kind of band that make you read between the songs and write a comic-book back-story for them in your mind.

It’s the first date of their tour supporting the Thermals and they attack the stale air in the Roadhouse like it’s their last night on Earth. As ”˜Toomerhead’ rings through the place, all gentle echo, semi-surf guitar and croaked vocals, they are a powerhouse: daubing the walls with personality and charm.

By contrast, The Thermals are power-pop by numbers. Faced with a sea of adoring fans, their work here was already done, before the plane had even landed. Their mere presence seemed, for many, to be worth the ticket price alone. Necks were so steadfastedly-craned at the stage, (and a few songs in, this was giving the band a run for their money in the ”˜stuff to look at’ stakes).

The adulation is understandable: the songs are picture perfect; singalong pop punk for a post-Offspring generation (though I’m sure most Thermals fans would recoil at the mention). It all just felt like everyone had read and approved the script before the band showed up. Everyone knew exactly what to expect and nobody rocked the boat. Three heads bobbing up and down on stage; three chords to keep things sweet.

I’ll sail The Coathangers’ sinking ship, any day.

Coathangers myspace.

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