Click your heels: Blood Red Shoes come home

Brighton Concorde 2

Last night Blood Red Shoes came home to Brighton’s Concorde 2 – a former Victorian tearoom or a former Hell’s Angel café, or both, my companion suggested. This homecoming followed, according to Facebook, about 130 gigs across Europe, Asia and the States this year and marked the point at which guitarist Laura-Mary Carter and drummer Steven Ansell, so they told us, would finally lay aside Fender Tele’ and brutalised drumstick and retire to their respective beds. The sell out crowd obviously knew this and joined in with fevered shouts in the frequent call and response choruses.

Notionally, I was also there to photograph the gig, but with the press pit crush, this consisted mostly of ferreting around and through the crowd, trying to catch glimpses through the gaps in arms and around or overheads. Results are here:

What the photography highlighted was the extensive use of backlighting which encouraged startling shapes, although gratefully free of rock posturing; strobes hammered out in time to Laura-Mary’s frenzied mix of rhythm and lead crunching neatly against – rather than bobbing over – Steven’s drum attack. Attack’s a good word for BRS. Each song started with Steven’s drumstick, held aloft before crashing down in concert with the first barred chord. Musically, BRS wear their influences on their sleeve: a bit of the Pixies here, some Polly Jean Harvey there, but none the worse for that. If you’re going to be influenced, be influenced by the best. On a night when Nick Cave smashed his Jag into a speed camera just down the road in Hove, ex-girlfriend PJ Harvey seemed a good place to start.

Subtlety is not BRS’s game live. Laura-Mary is as quiet between songs and she is dynamic during them, though Steve has an easy, direct banter. The backlighting pretty much obscured faces from view too. But then the opportunity to mosh, crowd surf and scream defiance on a school night more than compensated. Attack, immediacy and audience love – and from a few comments flying around a little lust. A heady mix indeed.