It looked like a capacity crowd peering through the smoke and lights for the mesmerizing Blood Red Shoes.
To get the fires started, that talented trio from Brighton, Ciel, filled the Garage with their alternative, grunge/pop showgazey sound so as we might get all warmed up.
Taking one or two numbers to really get a spark in the tinder box, the band soon established a deeply absorbing landscape of sound.
Michelle H’s punchy, punky and, at times, Morrissey-esque vocals drove hook-filled melodies combined with heavy, insistent, almost tribal-sounding drum beats and rhythmic riffs on guitar to create a mesmeric and at times, introspective sound. The eclectic crowd responded enthusiastically and empathetically to the emotive lyrics- these words, this feeling- were also theirs.
Michelle’s versatile vocals can be sweet, melodic, richly-toned or clamorous, angst-filled and discordant, capriciously and cleverly altered to match the mood of each of the songs. Her ringlets give her sensory feedback as she shakes her head from side to side during ‘Fine Everything’, the ethereal, mesmeric sound connecting with the entranced crowd. When Ciel’s set reaches its conclusion, her smile echoes the sensations filling The Garage of immersive energy and a robust conviction that everything is, as the song goes, “just fine”.
By now, the Garage is rammed and an expectant aura of anticipatory excitement pervades. As the band members take their places on the stage, the audience cry out declarations of love, awe and wonder, especially directed at their mesmerizingly beautiful lead singer Laura-Mary.
If you could see through the smoke, she literally kicked the set off in her blue cowboy boots with a hooky riff and a simple beat, Blood Red Shoes fire up the crowd with ‘Elijah’, passion and power communicated to all.
After ‘Bangsar’, which saw the drumming equivalent to Jerry Lee Lewis, Steven Ansell, take the lead vocals, they launch into “Morbid Fascination”. Tension in this song grows via complex and moody chord progressions and heavy drumming combined with a ballsy electronic beat, and was followed by “Howl”- where pause is used to great effect, creating suspense and anticipation…
And so, Laura-Mary tells her ecstatic audience it’s time for some older numbers- and they love it! Drumstick held aloft, the band launch into these well-loved favourites. Their seasoned fans know every chord and beat, and join in with fervour and conviction.
Alternating between themselves, each taking the lead with effortless cohesion, they perform “It’s Getting Boring by the Sea”. “Don’t Ask” features a time change and the mood changes back to heavy rock, demonstrating huge energy and faultless precision from Steven on drums.
Communication- between the band and their followers- is electric and they as they finish “Cold”, “This is not for you” and “An Animal”, the huge roars of mutual appreciation follow from their audience.
“Eye to Eye”, “Sucker” and ‘I AM NOT YOU’ feature their fearless, invigorating energy, driving the audience further into Blood Red Shoes’ perfectly balanced world. Melodic, instrumental hooks combined with riffs and reverb are the name of the well-played game.
Blood Red Shoes are arguably at their best live; the hot, intimate darkness of The Garage amid the smoky haze showcasing their tight, powerful sound- their mastery of song-writing and their raw, heady passion for what they do evident throughout this ultimately great performance.
Blood red Shoes played The Garage, Islington – 14th June 2022 – Support from Ciel
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