Guards: Shacklewell Arms, London – live reviewGuards

Shacklewell Arms, London

October 15th 2013

Fresh from a tour supporting MGMT Guards bowled up to Shacklewell Arms last week to headline a show of their own. Louder Than War were there to see the band who we think are about to go stratospheric play a brilliant set, albeit one bereft of their most well known song. 

Those adverts that turn up uninvited before the video you’re wanting to watch on YOUTUBE …….

I watched one the other day.

All the way through.

GUARDS also appeared recently on our radio’s and were thought of by some of us, well, one of us, as a half decent band that sounded so cool and so together and instantly loveable that it was assumed that this was just another one of the many beat combo’s we’ve missed out on because … well  … some of us just can’t keep up can we ?

Their tunes turned up here and there (no specific locations are worth mentioning) and then started to gatecrash into our living rooms uninvitingly, but kind of welcome.

Catchy tunes with bells on.

You can’t beat a catchy tune with a bell or two on can you ?

We know that, you know that and it appears that Guards know this also … as well as their little army of industry fairies that push buttons, arrange releases and get the good bands from far far away to come and visit us – they know it as well eh?

Guards have arrived here a little like the Pixies once did.

Tooled up with catchy choruses and instantly loveable indie songs that will be great down the student uni bar once their third album comes out and everyone claims to have been around on that evening when the band mounted this tiny stage that looks like it once doubled up as a child’s ghost train (you gotta see this place to know what we’re on about y’know …)

Not that they sound much like the Pixies.

Well one song does, but don’t let that get in the way of a good rant.

Guards: Shacklewell Arms, London – live reviewThey sound like a chirpier Jesus and Mary Chain or The Who at their poppiest. It may be the room we’re in, but it’s all fitting in nicely with the psych guitars and glorious echoing backing vocals that we’re used to hearing around these parts nowadays. This is a band with choruses’ that make you want to sing along to everything even though you’re still a few months away from learning the words. There’s a distinct lack of distortion around this stage this evening. Which keeps them apart from the UK based bands that are sneaking up on us at an alarming rate at the moment.

It also feels a bit of a surprise that we get to see Guards at a venue like the Shacklewell Arms. Some of us thought they were more famous than this. They kick the set off this evening with “I know it’s you”, a terrific tune and a reminder of how this band is about to fill our ears for the next hour. Richie Follin’s inter-song banter is one of attempting to be the most polite man in the world ,”you’re all lovely,” “thank you for all dancing” (we weren’t) and “this is an honour”.

I hope he was being sincere with that last bit because in my little world, this little building has now kept me personally very well entertained in the short eighteen months I’ve sparodiacally visited it – oh! and It’s where England just beat Poland to qualify for the World Cup. A lucky football pub for next summer as well then?

Guards are great and if you’re not carefull you’re going to one day be spending good money on seeing these in bigger rooms. They were also involved in CULTS, another good band worth checking out if you havn’t previously (“Go Outside” is fab).

BUT …………………. they didn’t play “Ready To Go” and that was really disappointing. I’m not usually one to moan about things but some bands have some songs that some people around here would include in one of their tunes of the year list once the voting papers arrive to decide such things.

“Ready to Go” is one of those tunes. Even without hearing this tune Guards are still ace, however the fact cannot be hidden that we should have been walking down to the bus stop at midnight singing this song at the top of our voices. I would have been less dissatisfied had Poland scored two late goals whilst I was in the back room.

So that’s my problem.

Yours is to give these a listen ‘cos Guards will be doing the biz if they hang around for a while more.

And learn how to play THAT song, or at least stop it from blaring out from my laptop every time I start to watch a video (any video) on youtube.


Guards website is here. They can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

All words by Keith Goldhanger. More work by Keith on Louder Than War can be found here. He’s also on SoundCloud here, Facebook here and tweets as @HideousWheeelInv.

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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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