Live Review

Liars, Sound Control, Manchester

A set with peaks in volume, constant effortless changes in instrumentation but no discernible dip in quality.

Photo by Leah Henson

‘Fly, fly, the devil… is in Manchester!’ yelps Angus Andrews, and while we’ll have to take his word on Beelzebub’s whereabouts, Liars are more than supplying the necessary dread and terror tonight, with their characteristically unsettling songs filling the loft venue that is Sound Control. For the uninitiated (and that’s a word chosen very deliberately) Liars are a dense black smog of fear and loathing in content delivered in the most jarringly fun-loving and playful demeanour. For the initiated it seems they are the inspiration for an almost cultish following who, making for yet another near-contradiction, are possibly the most polite crowd, each leaving each other the space to bend into unpredictable and distorted to shapes. But they are still the most involved and devoted audience.

Tonight Liars aren’t acting alone. Support act, visual artist The Haxan Cloak multiplies the fear before the Australian three-piece ever take the stage, playing out his Reznor-meets-Godspeed electro experimental drone to a room equally mesmerised and terrified by the infinitely creepy black and white film accompanying it. Then, when Liars’ time comes they emerge, the wiry dishevelled frame of singer, Angus Andrew, the impeccably dressed keyboardist / guitarist / bassist Aaron Hemphill and the disco stylings of drummer Julian Gross. From minute one you can tell that it’s going to be one of those times where nothing sits together yet somehow everything joins perfectly with aplomb, explosively. By the tenth minute or so they have hared through the stomping dance-punk of ‘Brats’ and everyone has firmly set themselves into an unbreakable routine, of jittering awkwardly for the louder songs and swaying like so many dying trees for the slow ones. The quiet eeriness of the set reaches its pinnacle with the clearly audible foot taps of Andrew, moving like a broken marionette to set ‘Ill Valley Prodigies’ on its way. Not to disappoint though, ‘Scarecrows On A Killer Slant’ demands maximum volume, and Liars give it all the skin-tearing raw power it deserves, while maintain chilling detachedness of the suave Hemphill’s “… and then kill them all” refrain. A set with peaks in volume, constant effortless changes in instrumentation but no discernible dip in quality ends with the loud and energetic ‘Plaster Casts of Everything’, the squalling guitars complementing the mainly electronic and moody ‘WIXIW’ tracks that Liars have composed the majority of the set from. Returning to encore they finish on the wandering insanity of ‘Broken Witch’, played to a room of people so adoring and mesmerised they would have accepted ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ played backwards on a recorder (which doesn’t even sound like something Liars wouldn’t do, and do well).

Liars are effortless yet they’re straining every sinew to give you the best possible performance; they don’t just play a set, they fill a room with their own strange aura. You’re almost not just there to see Liars, you’re there to see into Liars brilliant, haunting, bizarre but perfectly constructed world. Afterwards you might not want to go anywhere else.

Tags: Liars, Features

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