wed 29/03/2023

Dry Cleaning, Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow review - post-punk outfit say all the right words | reviews, news & interviews

Dry Cleaning, Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow review - post-punk outfit say all the right words

Dry Cleaning, Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow review - post-punk outfit say all the right words

The group's shy presence was in contrast to a furious noise

Dry Cleaning, perhaps tucking into pre-gig foodBen Rayner

There is an endearing awkwardness with Dry Cleaning, despite steady success over the past three years. “Does anyone else want a wave?” asked their frontwoman Florence Shaw at one point, almost shyly, before proceeding to do just that in various directions.

It was an intriguing contrast, between a group who seemed slightly taken aback by the size of venue they were playing, and the manner in which they emphatically delivered their material in that setting during this gig.

Shaw herself rarely moved, instead pitching herself centre stage and providing her cut glass spoken word vocals from there, each line deliberately measured and every tilt of her head done in a nonchalant manner indicating curiosity about what lay in the corners of the Barrowland, like a predator eying up prey. It made the contrast with her between song character the more striking, simply offering the occasional thank you. Her delivery, at its sharpest, needs no gimmicks to accompany it, Instead old favourites like the acid tongued “Unsmart Lady” and a biting “Scratchcard Lanyard” were propulsive simply by words alone.

If Shaw is a cool presence, her musical comrades offer rather more fired up backing, with guitarist Tom Dowse striding back and forth like a guitar hero for hire while contorting his face as if he’d stood on a Lego brick barefoot, and bassist Lewis Maynard headbanging away. When their post-punk (and occasionally just punk) tumult worked, it was both a dynamic sight and sound, Shaw coolly standing nonplussed as her bandmates ricocheted around, and tracks like “Hot Penny Day”, with its snake hips groove, and the aggressive, driving “Her Hippo” battering out into your ears and through your body.

Yet there is a fine line sometimes being walked with Dry Cleaning, as the spoken word style can sometimes feel a little restrictive, particularly over a near 90 minute set that saw last year’s sophomore release “Stumpwork” played nearly in its entirety. The title track was one that felt rather flat, a droning number that offered little, and for all that Shaw provides a presence, the nature of her voice means there was little light and shade offered.

Given this was a set shorn of anything beyond a vivid lights display and a stuffed llama toy being perched on a speaker, a mid set lull arrived, blighted by a lengthy, static, “No Decent Shoes For Rain” and a version of “Conservative Hell” that creaked under its own experimentalism.

Such a slowdown was worth enduring for those moments when they did get it right, and when the noise level rose and a Glasgow crowd diverse in age range started to move. One of their earliest tracks, “Magic of Meghan” arrived with Stooges esque savagery, but even that was topped by the encore’s “Liberty Log”, a towering wave of vibrant rhythms and hammering guitar. It, and the following, hazy, show closer of “Anna Calls From The Arctic” were unique and twisted in all the right ways, before they departed with one final wave from Shaw.

It was both a dynamic sight and sound, Shaw coolly standing nonplussed as her bandmates ricocheted around

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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