Blood Red Shoes returned this cold, cold January night to play their biggest gig to date and, sadly, only UK show of the year. With good ol' rock 'n' roll exhaustion and illness forcing the group to postpone their gigs a few months ago, tonight sees a crowd chomping at the bit to see what the duo can do. Firstly though is an effectively loud set from noisy buggers Wet Nuns followed by the ever intriguing Rolo Tomassi. Mathcore may be a required taste as it is but Tomassi have shown much more verve on the live festival circuit then what's seen on offer tonight. Singer Eva Spence causes fascination as ever with her ability to switch between "demon" and "nice" voice with ease but new bassist Nathan Fairweather needs to let loose to match his bandmates in the energy stakes.
With friendly thanks for turning up Brighton natives BRS begin and reveal a machine like tightness often missing in two-piece units. Carter's guitar and Ansell's Grohl-esque drums interlock from the off, never missing a beat or note for the following hour and ten. They may be here to promote latest 'In Time to Voices' but a nice array of the band's three albums are played much to the circle-pitting delight of the standing area. 'I Wish I Was Someone Better' gets feet off the floor while 'Light It Up' from 'Fire Like This' proves a surefire crowd pleaser. Most in seating opt to stand and the Empire is basked in blinding timed lights as the band gain momentum with every number. "Here's a good one for tonight!" jokes Carter before starting recent single 'Cold', all sultry vocals and filthy riffs.
When played in quick succession it's clear that some of Blood Red Shoes' material suffers from a dash of repetition, especially in the tempo stakes. None of the tracks sound lackluster, far from it, but an absence of variety betrays the band's blistering delivery live. This is an issue newer songs seem to be remedying. 'Lost Kids' proves a night highlight while two tracks from brand spanking new EP 'Water' strangely result in the biggest crowd reaction. Gibson SG strapped on and Carter delivers some AC/DC inspired riffs, guitar tone drastically different to the punk/indie staple that has gotten the band through so far. The tracks are fun, groovy, heavier in volume and cause an audience member to scream: "Large!" Following this path will no doubt lead the band to more success and more gigs of such size.
Tonight's finale suitably amps the energy levels. The encore blurs into one big punk infused light show, drums and guitar pounded into submission as the odd fan gets thrown over the barrier up front in classic rock fashion. Biggest gig done and Ansell remembers something important: "You know what? We've forgot to take a photo!" 2013 the year guitar music comes back? Balls, it never went away.
Words by Sam Walker-Smart
Photo by Anton Coene