Saturday night gigs automatically have one up on weekday gigs. With no worry of getting up for work the next day, everyone has the opportunity to let their hair down and have a good old time.
And what better band to spend a Saturday night with than Blood Red Shoes. Having seen them countless times before I knew full well Sunday would be needed for recovery, if not just to get my hearing back. Laura-Mary Carter and Steve Ansell aren’t know for their shy and retiring nature, and they certainly can’t be accused of holding back when it comes to their live performances. Tonight was going to be loud.
This time around in their biggest headline show in Manchester, a city they claim never to have had a bad gig in, they’ve bought along one of our new favourite bands and thoroughly nice chaps, The Cast of Cheers as support. A match made in musical heaven. Since Skiddle saw the Irish four piece on their co-headlining tour with Theme Park earlier in the year things have gone from strength to strength, and they now count Huw Stephens and Grimmers as fans. The perfect choice to warm up the crowd, and with a similar hard hitting, loud and masterful sound to the headliners, the crowd lapped it up. Their mix of jerky, electro tinged hooks, bass-heavy thwomping, ferociously delivered lyrics and sprightly stage presence had everyone immersed and I dare say garnered them a fair few new fans. But not only did they impress, they also accustomed our ear lobes to the level of bombast that would continue for the remainder of the night. If only all bands chose their support so wisely.
Duo Blood Red Shoes returned with their third album In Time To Voices earlier this year, bravely releasing it without having tested any of the material live. This extensive UK tour has seen the tracks getting their first airing, and in all honesty it didn’t show. Such is their fanbase and following, that all tracks could have been old favourites.
Against a striking stage set-up of red velvet curtain and television screens (very much in keeping with their recent album and single's artwork) they kicked things off with set staple ‘It’s Getting Boring By The Sea’, instantly reminding us why they first grabbed our attention back in 2008. It’s hard to imagine how one guitar and one set of drums can make so much noise, but it does. Their dynamic is unique and so finely tuned that it’s hard to imagine one without the other. The on stage rapport between them is also somewhat endearing, Laura-Mary striding over to the drum kit at various intervals and feeding off Steve’s energy, with reassuring glances also exchanged between the two during the set.
‘Don’t Ask’ saw the crowd explode into a head banging, fist pumping sea - holding back definitely wasn’t an option. Noise levels seemed to increase tenfold and Laura-Mary’s compelling, beguiling, emotive voice pierced through the thundering drums and strident guitar. She’s incredibly alluring as a performer; playing guitar masterfully with great precision and agility yet maintaining an air of mystery. At times she appears quite shy and even mentions that she’s nervous, but then goes and blows us away with a vivacious guitar riff. With a natural striking beauty too she’s quite something to watch; quite how she manages to look so sweat free and pristine with all the raucousness we’ll never know. I found myself on a couple of occasions staring longingly wishing I could just be her… and with shouts of “I love you” at every given opportunity from the red blooded males in the room I clearly wasn’t the only one enamoured.
Ansell equally makes a compelling front man. His sheer vigour when thrashing those drums is a real sight to behold. He oozes passion and effortlessly holds his own vocally too, his raw, sonorous, projectile voice complimenting Laura-Mary's more melodious seductive nodes wholly. Usually drummers are resigned to the back of the stage and we don't really get a sense of their skill and vitality, but the fact he shares front stage making his dexterous artistry visible is a stirring sight and definitely helps ignite the ardent crowd during recent single 'Cold' and 'Say Something, Say Anything'.
Steve informs us that earlier in the day they'd played a few songs on Mike Joyce's radio show and found it quite surreal "the guy from The Smiths was asking me about drumming", and with that they launched into a frenzied rendition of 'Light it Up', easily one of their most celebrated and well loved tracks: the room was on fire. New material in the form of 'In Time To Voices, 'Down Here In The Dark' and 'Lost Kids' were slipped in and all very well received, carrying the same hard hitting sound as their earlier offerings but with a definite sense that they've evolved and taken a new direction lyrically.
The encore consisted of three juggernauts, 'I wish I Was Someone Better' trailing into 'Colours Fade' and ending on what Laura-Mary so eloquently labelled our "last chance to go fu*king apeshit"; new stand out track 'Je Me Perds'. Never has the term 'rocked to our very core' been so apt.
Suitably invigoured for a Saturday night on the tiles we left knowing why we hold the duo in such high esteem. They're a real band, un-contrived, and who quite frankly don't give a damn. Trouble follows them around on the road, they like a party and they're not afraid to speak their mind. Everything comes from them; from the music to the artwork. They get involved and it shows. It's clearly a combination that works too, eight years in and they're still pulling the crowds. There aren't many bands that can say the same. And with more mainstream recognition having been earned through their third album it doesn't look like they're about to be disappearing just yet.
Blood Red Shoes are well and truly back, with an almighty bang.
Words: Michelle Lloyd
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