Few bands can loose the shackles of our day-to-day lives like Sleater-Kinney. Less a band, more a force of nature, they’ve always been – and continue to be – one of rock’s most electrifying experience. The group’s dizzying second arc has brought triumph and dissent, with drummer Janet Weiss departing. Tonight at the Dome in London – their smallest UK shows in over two decades – Sleater-Kinney seem to relish renewed connection, a show that becomes an exorcism of emotion.
Heavy on fan-pleasing favourites, with more than a few nods to the future, Sleater-Kinney dazzle while also surprising. Second era cuts – ‘The Center Won’t Hold’ for example – merge perfectly with those seminal tracks, with the band seizing on every note, every drumbeat. Carrie Brownstein is electrifying, her spasms onstage writhing into the subconscious, both studied pose and the form of someone intimately entwined with her music. Corin Tucker is more studied, at times almost aloof, but equally intense, equally informed by the sound pouring forth.
It’s timely, too. Carrie Brownstein takes the mic, informing the crowd that “this is the type of venue we feel most comfortable in… we can literally see everyone in here.”
Later, there’s a political aspect. Carrie notes the ongoing developments in the Middle East, and states: “We want a ceasefire and we want Palestinian liberation and we want peace.”
She adds: “There’s not much we can say right now except that there’s a lot going on, and this is the only chance we have… we’re so fucking lucky to be here, to be alive, so please fight with all your heart for what is right.”
Incoming album ‘Little Rope’ lingers in the background, new material fitting perfectly into the set. If 2021’s ‘Path Of Wellness’ felt at times obscure, maybe unfocussed, then the reverse is true of the new material – informed by grief, there’s a lazer-sharp accuracy to every single second.
Spread across two sets, another highlight comes in the form of a tribute to a much-loved peer. ‘Dance Song ‘97’ was covered by Low for a ‘Dig Me Out’ anniversary compilation, with Sleater-Kinney opting to play this re-arrangement of their own song. Dedicating the performance to the late, great Mimi Parker, Carrie said: “We miss her greatly… the beautiful thing about hearing a band like Low cover your song is that they completely surpass it.”
With a short break leading into the second set, Sleater-Kinney unleash a vitriolic ‘No Cities To Love’, before ending on a fan-pleasing rampage: ‘Dig Me Out’, ‘Modern Girl’, ‘Say It Like You Mean It’ and a splenetic ‘Entertain’. One of rock’s most volcanic live experiences, Sleater-Kinney exit their smallest London show in two decades leaving no one present in any doubt about what they’ve just witnessed – a truly special set, by a truly special band.
Words: Robin Murray
Photo Credit: Chris Hornbecker