At around ten o’clock, the red curtain at the Corner Hotel drew open, revealing Girls who launched into ‘Laura’, surrounded by lavish bouquets of flowers. With a relatively new drummer, and their noticeably absent soul singers, this was to be a heavier Girls concert than many may have anticipated. Slight skews in the sound levels left the band feeling uneasy after the first song, the lead guitar being too high, not enough synths in foldbacks; usual shit.
It wasn’t until ‘Honey Bunny’ that the band began to excel, with the crowd feverishly singing along. “Thank You”, whispered Christopher Owens in appreciation. Which was about the extent of his interaction with the eager crowd. There was a sense that Owens was altogether unhappy with how the gig was going. Swearing under his breath between lines in ‘Vomit’ and ‘Alex’ JR seemed stoic as ever on the bass, Matthew on the keys was enjoying the authority they were bringing to songs like ‘Die’ and ‘Headache’.
Their new drummer seemed to bring a Mitch Mitchell style bombast, which also worked well to bolster the more aggressive numbers. One gets the sense that a Girls show would run similarly whether Owens was enjoying himself or not, the strength of Girls’ show lies not with their ability to “rock out”, but with their ability to engage their audience with the emotions of their songs, and they do that with ease.
‘Broken Dreams Club’ was the standout track, a live rarity, the band incorporated some interesting dual soloing and rhythmic pauses into the songs middle which gave fresh life to one of their favourite songs. ‘Carolina’ was similarly impressive, swirls of reverb flooded the opening of the song, before transforming into an alt-country banger, and then converting back into a wash of reverb and distortion before the band launched headlong into ‘Morning Light’.
Similarities can be drawn between Girls and Wilco when it comes to their live show. They’re competent live performers, never flashy or showy, placing emphasis on the songs and their presence rather than the members own presence. At the conclusion of the show, the band threw and handed their flowers to the audience. They took the time to hand out each and every one of them. For a band who has practically been touring the world relentlessly since 2009, it’s nice to see that they still care.
– Alastair Matcott