House of Love: Sound Control, Manchester – live review

Camberwell Beauties

House of Love
Sound Control, Manchester
8th April 2013

It’s 25 years since the House of Love released their critically acclaimed debut album. For 18 months they were quite simply the best rock band in the world, taking their cue principally from the Velvets, but with nods to west coast psychedelia, Television and The Only Ones. Then the wheels fell off. That particular chapter has been well documented recently with the advent of their new long player ‘She Paints Words in Red’.

Whilst former Creation stablemates MBV and Primal Scream continue to grab the headlines this most un-rock of rock bands go criminally unnoticed, slipping quietly under rocks radar. The late John Peel was a huge advocate inviting them to play at his 50th and famously turning up and writing an imperious review of a Leeds gig.

Tonight 25 years on they are simply majestic reminding one of (oh must we be wistful)…”what could have been”. The utter brilliance of Bickers; the best guitarist of his generation is given licence to roam melding a kaleidoscope of sounds and effects around Chadwick’s perfectly crafted songs – it makes for a delicious cocktail if sometimes a lethal one. What is so enlightening tonight is how the new songs stand up against the old ones – this is some achievement. The new single burns a hole through the ceiling leaving an afterglow of feedback in its wake. Elsewhere ‘Low Black Clouds’ and ‘Hemingway’ prove Chadwick remains one of the best singer songwriters around. Of the old ones ‘Road’ early on in the set is utterly immense allowing Bickers to perform cartwheels, whilst behind Pete Evans perforates the air as if he’s cracking bones. ‘Touch Me’ is iridescent covering every surface of the venue in a thin crystalline layer of frost and the ‘Beatles and the Stones’ works so well because it doesn’t sound like the 60s icons in any shape or form. ‘Love in a Car’ is simply sublime. We are treated to two encores, including a beautiful rendition of the acoustic ‘Phone’ before ‘Destroy the Heart’ sweeps in like a vortex smashing everything in its path to smithereens. They leave us with ‘Christine’; a perfectly formed piece of pop, glistening and shimmering as if reflecting past glories.

When they are this good nothing else matters. Shine On.

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