Post War Glamour Girls, The Louche and OtherPeoplesLives
The Castle, Manchester
14th November 2013
Post War Glamour Girls, The Louche and OtherPeoplesLives make up an exceptional three band bill at Manchester’s Castle Hotel, and if this performance is anything to go by, Cath Aubergine thinks Post War Glamour Girls should be ones to watch in 2014.
The back room of The Castle is undoubtedly a lovely little venue, the expanse of space in the church like timbered roof rendering it somewhat less claustrophobic than most places of this size that put gigs on – well, for punters at least. If you’re a band with two enormous pedal boards, you might find fitting them on the stage a bit of a challenge. Solution: stick them on the floor. So the evening begins with two members of OtherPeoplesLives (see pic above) in the midst of the growing crowd – luckily the one next to me is quite tall and facing away, or this could get awkward…
It’s been fairly well established that the phrase “post-rock” doesn’t mean anything much these days, and many of its themes have been with us now for long enough for it to sound semantically as daft as the 80’s bands who called themselves progressive while copying 70s sounds (hang on, that was last week’s rant, wasn’t it?) but until someone comes up with something better it’ll have to do. OtherPeoplesLives are very good at the loud-quiet thing, certainly, with a pervasive feel of brooding disquiet, understated vocals and haunting delay soaked textures giving way to huge surges of guitar pile-up. There are bits that sound like Sigur Ros and I Like Trains. And it’s wonderfully executed – each layer of sound there for a reason; to do this this well, especially at back-room-of-pub level, is an intricate art. I’ll certainly be going to see them again.
Manchester provides the filling for this Leeds sandwich in the form of The Louche (see pic right). They’ve been a bit quiet of late, tucked away writing and regrouping after the sideways move of former guitarist Luke into Sways Records bunkermates Naked (On Drugs), and it’s great to have them back. There are so many things to love about The Louche; the guitars sparkle and fuzz like old-school shoegaze bands used to, but for those who always found such bands a little lacking in the strong vocal tunes department rest assured The Louche have plenty of those too.
And what can you say about singer Kyoko Swan, except that she’s one of the greatest, um (tries to think of non gender biased words, fails somewhat), frontpersons in Manchester right now, the way she casually sets down her guitar against the amps towards the end of songs so she can bash her tambourine while drinking a glass of red wine. Think vintage Phil Spector pop class with a side order of eighties indie melancholy; you get the feeling Kyoko spent her teenage years singing along to The Smiths in her bedroom because every so often – notably on brilliant early single “Romantic” – there’ll be one of those great slightly melodramatic swoops. Though I’m sure the Mozfather would have been somewhat more scathing had he caught sight of the Queen in town earlier today, as Kyoko did – here, old Liz just gets a song dedication. I hope she likes Will Sergeant-esque guitars.
Generally, reviews of Post War Glamour Girls (see pic right) contain the word “intense” fairly early on, and this is no exception. If this were your first time seeing them you might be lulled into a false sense of security as bassist Alice is the first voice you hear, then James comes in all snarling and pissed off. As he mentions, there’s a reason to be pissed off tonight as the van they shared with the opening band has been broken into outside (thankfully most of their gear seems to be safely in here) but hell, he always sounds pissed off, spluttering and spilling bitterness like the over-intelligent and underemployed (if somewhat more tuneful) descendent of Mark E Smith or even the John Cooper Clarke from whom they borrowed their name. His coat stays on throughout.
The music PWGG make is unsettling, darkly atmospheric and loosely in the area generally referred to as post-punk, gothic, but not goth-ish, the stuff murder ballads are made of; I’ve no idea exactly what’s going on in “Jazz Funerals” (a brilliantly titled recent-ish single) but I’m pretty sure it’s rather unseemly. It all seems to be over way too soon, but there’s an album on the way. They’ll be making an announcement on Boxing Day, apparently, presumably once all that pesky cheerful business is out of the way for another year.
An absolutely brilliant triple bill, all in all, courtesy of Northern Noise who also presented that Purple Heart Parade gig we reviewed in here last week. If you live in Manchester and enjoy well-assembled bills of up and coming bands from here and beyond, you should probably be keeping an eye on them. Join the Facebook page here.
Photos by Ged Camera – check out Ged’s unique and comprehensive archive of Manchester live music images here.