Live Review: Dirtblonde @ Hurdy Gurdy, Badformat

Posted on 21 February 2010
By Amy Roberts
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Oh Hurdy Gurdy, file this one in the ‘Lesson Learnt’ drawer and move on. Essentially – if a gig night has taken less than a fortnight to put together, you can pretty much expect it to be a bit of a tits-up, lackluster FAIL.

Hurdy Gurdy at Badformat is tonight reminiscent of those early teenage gig nights that used to go down in Heaven’N’Hell (remember that joint?!) and The Zanzibar absolute beards ago in which the audience was only made up of the bands and their mates. You know, where there’s about five people going ape-shit-with-restraint before some Ramones-rip-off band onstage, and about forty people ambling round the bar high-fiving the bloke they sit next to in sixth-form history for his totally slick guitar skills.

It’s Friday night. Badformat has no phone signal and is as far away from the part of town where all your mates are as is humanly possible in the city centre. This is the gig equivalent of the arctic circle, or a Twilight Zone episode in which apathetic, mean spirited music journo’s are locked in the same gig for eternity until they can learn to just be NICE.

In keeping with this spirit allow us to politely skip through the evenings events, briefly mentioning the total lack of atmosphere and the fact that most people are either huddled round the bar or sitting off on couches around the permitter away from the stage area (unless of course their mates band’s playing), and jump straight to the point where the awesomeness that is Dirtblonde takes to the stage.

Sadly for the cool as fuck, rock’n’noise duo, the performance feels like one of those mid-90’s music videos in which a cool as fuck, rock’n’noise band tear up the stage to a frankly unreponsive, oddly assembled audience (watch Zero by The Smashing Pumpkins or anything from The Dandy Warhols).

Dirtblonde don’t let this stop them though. Having draped the unused drum kit with red LED lights and their mic stands with bright, twinkling scores of bulbs they burst into a sublime racket of gorgeously low register, apathetic vocals and roaring, throaty, louder than apocalypse guitar. Backed only by their trusty drum machine (never underestimate the power of a Boss Dr-670), they’re downright dirt-o-matic, scuzz lusty perfection.

‘This one’s about being an obsessive fan of someone’ Lula announces before they break into Superfan – a riot act of want that sees Ivan dropping to his knees for it’s finale, screeching his fingers across fret boards causing an ungodly, visceral disturbance. He’s bowed upon the floor for the act, as though in begging before a shrine.

There’s a cheeky nod to Patti Smith too, with His Name – a Gloria-esque spoken word, locomotive dreamscape of tersely built up raw pleading rhythm which is sumptuous for Lula’s honeyed delivery and Ivan’s chug-chugging accompaniment.

‘Here’s a slow one for those of you who don’t like too much noise…’ Ivan grumbles into the mic, probably at the scores of lifeless people by the bar shouting over his pneumatic guitar sound, no doubt wishing they were sat in the quiet of The Everyman Bistro eating quiche and discussing the misanthropic merits of silent discos.

They kick into Brooklyn, a plummeting, lost-soul of a song that pines and longs and hammers on with an underscore of melancholy juxtaposed by a determined, swinging fist of a riff that never quite makes the punch, but is opulent in it’s doomsy ongoing threat.

Their finale is as blissfully destructive as they’re notorious for. A Rock’n’fuck-it kick of the bucket that descends from sexy, heavenly moans to a riff-babel infestation of discordant destruction. Lula hangs her head like an unused puppet and bashes bass with an amorous determination for decorum whilst Ivan swings his guitar about the place like Leatherface with his chainsaw, before attacking the LED lights draped around the drum kit. He pulls them off and around him, becoming entangled like Mowgli fighting a neon snake before falling to the floor and writhing about in a onslaught of pure, precious din.

The set is over.
A smattering of half-arsed applause spills out, and a couple of yelps that sound more like the faulty mechanisms of a flare gun than a verbal accolade. It feels like Dirtblonde may as well have been playing in Sayers for all the good it did them, but then that’s Liverpool for you.

But sod it. Dirtblonde – Purple Revolver salutes you. Come round and fuck our office up anytime you want – you’ll probably get more of a crowd, too.

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