The darkened hold of the Thekla, Bristol’s club in a boat, is an appropriate place to see Liars. In this industrial grotto, their tribal rhythms and satanic allure are even more pronounced than on record. Their backing videos are an eerie collage of dripping blood and animals eyes. If they’d also featured flashing red pentagrams and subliminal messages urging us to kill it wouldn’t have been at all surprising.
The band enter to a pounding, typically demented version of ‘Hold Hands And It Will Happen Anyway’ from 2004’s witchy concept album, They Were Wrong, So We Drowned. Drummer Julian Gross appears first, looking the part of some psychotic backwoodsman in full beard and neon pink snow jacket. But, as ever, it’s Andrews who is the focus of all the attention. A mixture of Jaggeresque strut, leery sexuality and likely demonic possession, he makes for a uniquely terrifying frontman. “Choke, choke, the devil we invoke” he howls into the crowd. Gulp.
With a set list that carefully ignores their 2002 debut, it’s the songs from this year’s self-titled album that are met with the wildest applause. ‘Houseclouds’, with its anthemic cry of, “we’ve been waiting for this all our lives” is a particular favourite. But it’s in the deliriously pagan heart of their earlier material that Liars are at their most hypnotic. ‘We Fenced Other Gardens…’ is accompanied by a furious groping of Andrew’s own breast, and “Let’s Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack” a blood curdling scream. Liars are a cult band in a very literal sense.
With the war drums dying down, the band elects to close with a teased out version of “The Other Side Of Mt. Heart Attack”. After the preceding chaos, it’s the echoes of this, their most direct and heartfelt song, that remain long after the Thekla has emptied. In the aftermath, Angus Andrews looks happy, smiling and shaking hands with fans. The demons have left him. For now.