Album launch parties never have cake. There are never hats. The bouncy castle to attendee ratio is always less than ideal. Basically 'album launch party' is just another one of those shorthand music industry phrases couched in double meaning (see also: 'reunion tour' = bank has threatened to repossess our house; 'acoustic album' = drummer in rehab; 'special edition' = re-release of failed record with song by artist recently featured in popular advert in desperate attempt to sell more).
As parties, they're underwhelming. As gigs, 'album launch parties', or as the literal minded should insist, 'shows played by bands in venues smaller than they would normally pick with little or no forewarning the during the first week of a album release', can be pretty stellar. This definitely falls into that category.
Despite having been around for ten years and four records – both figures surprising in their magnitude – this is Blood Red Shoes' first foray into the world of launch parties. As a demonstration of how shamefully underrated they are, it is successful in a way that make you make want to offer them an immediate promotion, complete with corner office and access to the executive bathroom.
They have always been a band who just suit playing live. A band who make an noise not in keeping with their number. Tonight is loud (a little too loud in places, as Laura-Mary Carter's vocals are occasionally inaudible), sweaty and totally thrilling. Especially the new songs. The opening instrumental 'Welcome Home' careers forward with a breathless, breakneck momentum. 'A Perfect Mess' swirls menacingly, while 'Everything All At Once' is pitched someway between the stark clank of The Kills and the sludgy desert-rock of QOTSA.
Earlier tracks, particularly a highly strung 'Don't Ask' and a vitriolic, venom-spitting version of 'I Wish I Was Someone Better' delivered with sufficient ferocity to jolt the floor, are more obviously punky. Later songs are more complex and swollen, with an tremendous heft to some of the riffs. But old or new, they are performed with enviable purpose: not the effervescence of the enraptured, more the enraged energy of the terminally underwhelmed.
It is not the most flawless show they'll play. Which after some time away, perhaps isn't surprising. But as a crunching 'Je Me Perds' concludes in flailing, desperate abandon, it is hard to imagine a more enjoyable one. Only, maybe, if they had cake. And hats. And a bouncy castle.
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