Girls in Synthesis: Shacklewell Arms (London) – live reviewGirls In Synthesis
Shacklewell Arms, London
25th February 2022

Keith Goldhanger (words) and Paul Grace (photos) attend London’s Shacklewell Arms for an evening of thrilling, loud and raucous entertainment.

Have a good look around at what’s going on in the world at the moment and couple it up with the music you’re using to temporarily drown out the sound of the anticipated horror and voices of uneducated theorists. Ask yourself if it all matches up but if you’re wondering if there’s anywhere you can go to drown out that fucked up bit of our existence for an hour then maybe spending some time in the company of Girls in Synthesis is what’s required.

Girls in Synthesis would never have planned it like this. Their album Now Here’s An Echo From Your Future came out along with Louder Than War release of compiled EP’s just as we were told to cover our faces, queue up to get into the supermarkets, and sing happy birthday to ourselves as we washed our hands. Unavoidable as it was, however, turning up to our favourite East London venue to crank up the noise for one cold February evening, and remind us of our teenage years to help us forget everything else going on in the outside world for a short while was, without doubt, the best tonic many of us could have wished for.

Girls in Synthesis: Shacklewell Arms (London) – live review

This has got to be the best bass sound we’ve heard for many years surely? If you think JJ Burnel is good then fill your boots. That’s the first thing you notice.

Fans of Killing Joke old enough to remember the early Eighties are reminded tonight of those tiny shows the band tore through forty years ago. With the dual vocals, some songs could be mistaken at times for hardcore Wire songs that were never written. The introduction of electronic noise towards the tail end of this magnificent set that hummed and throbbed through the layers of controlled feedback this three-piece had created added to the spectacle.

Girls in Synthesis: Shacklewell Arms (London) – live review

Girls in Synthesis are loud of course. We expected it to be, but it’s not a harsh or uncomfortable sound we’re hearing. It’s a noise that forces your fist in the air, a spectacle we can’t take our eyes off. The moshing is sporadic and the audience here want to watch this closely as well as soak up the noise in the room.

Two voices stand face to face as drums pound simply behind them. These frenzied vocals, along with the rumble of that driving bass and chopping guitar that divides the choruses from the verses every now and then make this an epic experience. It’s fast, hypnotic, intense and seamless. It’s music that gets our adrenaline fueled-up yet again. The reason we go out at night to give us a temporary distraction from the world outside.

Girls in Synthesis: Shacklewell Arms (London) – live review

Every tune is different but each one maintains the attention of the listener. It’s fierce, it’s mighty, it’s an established collection of tunes that make this band what they are. Then it stops suddenly and that’s it. Lights on, no encore, and the packed room seems to take a deep breath before politely leaving in single file to head out into the cold air, catch a breath, and work out what’s been going on for the past hour.

They’ll be your favourite band when you get to see them but don’t take the risk of waiting until they’re playing huge venues they’re surely destined for. Go and see them instead as soon as you can in the smallest room you can find them playing in. Take all your mates and promise them a night to remember. Girls in Synthesis are fucking awesome and make just the right noise for these intense times we’re about to experience. As massive as Big Black the first time you saw them, Killing Joke when you still had that old leather jacket, Therapy at the Falcon, My Bloody Valentine ….you’ll add more to the list when you get to witness these. We’re sure you will, You’ll probably need to. This was magnificent.


Words by Keith Goldhanger, photos by Paul Grace. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Keith on Facebook and Twitter (@HIDEOUSWHEELINV).

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Keith Goldhanger -- Spent the '90s as a frontman with London noise merchants HEADBUTT - spent the '80s in 'Peel favourites' BASTARD KESTREL. Spent a few years mashing up tunes and remixing bands as HIDEOUS WHEEL INVENTION. Is often out and about getting in the way of things and bumping his head on low ceilings - Will give your band the time of day but will dislike any band that balances full pints of alcohol on the top of guitar amps (Not keen on lead singers that wear hats either).


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