Saturday, 25 October 2008

Now the stripes are red

A few years ago there was this new band - just a drummer and a guitarist, girl and boy - that had everyone talking. Fast forward to 2008 and there's another band of the same configuration doing the rounds, and with a not totally different colour scheme.

OK, so comparing Blood Red Shoes with the White Stripes is pretty unfair - the similarities end with the line up as the music is totally different. Whereas White Stripes always sound quite sparse and stripped down, Blood Red Shoes manage to create a dense, textured sound that belies their limited numbers. Disaffected lyrics, buzzing guitars and deadpan 'oh oh's are a few other characteristics that set Blood Red Shoes aside from their American counterparts.

We inadvertently missed the first few tracks of their recent show at Astoria 2 and burst in as Laura-Mary n' Stephen were burning their way through You Bring Me Down from their debut album Box of Secrets.

Blood Red Shoes have famously clocked up an incredible number of live gigs since their inception in 2004, and it showed in their performance. The two were astoundingly tight and performed their interlocking vocals intuitively without barely shooting a glance at each other.

Their bijoux stage was decked out with red lampshades, but unfortunately no one thought to put Stephen's drumkit on a riser. This, combined with the terrible layout of Astoria 2, meant it was near impossible to catch a glimpse of him throughout the gig.

Laura-Mary, on the other hand, was centre stage and soaking up all the adoration. With her overlong fringe and moody demeanor, she seemed to be channelling a bit Chrissie Hynde, a bit Cousin It. She played the guitar incredibly well and with gusto, making it easy to believe the Blood Red Shoes manifesto of playing so hard and fast that they bleed.

In fact, couldn't quite believe that the two of them could make such a full-bodied racket and kept craning to see if I could spot any back-up guitarists in the wings, but incredibly they did seem to be doing it alone.

During the encore Stephen invited everyone onstage and members of the audience clambered over each other to stake their place during ADHD, but there was never much of the atmosphere of anarchy or chaos that the band no doubt hoped to induce.

Thanks to their somewhat limited repertoire the show was over less than an hour after it started, a particularly savage and self-flagellating version of I Wish I Was Someone Better and a tense, menacing rendition of Try Harder a couple of the highlights. Overall, I have to say it was a shoe-perb performance.

Photo by +++ponyrock+++ on Flickr

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