Girl group impress...

The Like are easy targets for hipster snootiness. Firstly, they’re four very good looking Californian girls.

If that wasn’t bad enough, their latest album is a brazen and utterly shameless pillaging of The Shangri-Las’ bubblegum pop. And get this - a couple of the band have Daddies who were powerful record company moguls (we so love the word mogul, even if we don’t fully understand the difference between a mogul and a tycoon). So, there is a lot to dislike about The Like.

Not that any of this had seemed to cut much mustard with a sizeable Manchester crowd. The Ruby Lounge starts off hot and gets progressively sweatier as a trio of local bands work their art. Best of the bunch is the intelligent post-punk of Golden Glow.

By the time The Like appear - flashing smiles the size of Orange County - a legion of lads have been magnetised to the front. We spend the gig watching their smart-arse-phones taking repeated shots of their favourite Like. The band seem up for it, and deliver a 35-minute, 100 miles-an-hour set exclusively from their new album – the Mark Ronson-produced ‘Release Me’ – perhaps as a subliminal exorcism of their Geffen-hashed debut.

Live, The Like are tight, professional and fine musicians. Elizabeth ‘Z’ Berg is a hugely engaging frontwoman – part Kristin Hersh, part Kirsten Dunst - while Tennessee Thomas bashes her drum kit scarily well. Their new set of songs are 60’s Apple Pie pop –it’s like watching ‘The O.C’ through the host medium of a rock band, or L7 with a cute picket-fence.

But - and here’s the light bulb moment – these are a strong collection of songs, to anyone who’s a sucker for a melody and a key change (which should be almost everyone in a fair and ego-free world). ‘He’s Not A Boy’ gallops along like all great pop music should, while ‘Walk Of Shame’ is The Bangles updated for a new millennium. When ‘Z’ starts to mess with her effects pedal, things get even more interesting; ‘Narcissus In A Red Dress’ and new single ‘Wishing He Was Dead’ add muscular grunge to pristine melody making.

They end with ‘In The End’ (ah, the fun to be had with set-lists). There is no encore, the girls preferring to accept a legion of requests for photos with those boy and their phones. The Like keep smiling, but as another sweaty youth drapes himself over them, you can almost hear them humming that new single.

Words by John Freeman

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