VIDEO: Liars Live @ Sound Control, Manchester
Liars second UK tour of the year rested casually on songs from their brilliant sixth album WIXIW, with six of its finest peppering a set featuring tracks spanning their career.
But first, support act The Haxan Cloak, with pretty much zero lightening and a lot of volume, delivered some of the eeriest and most terrifying ambient I’ve heard for a while. It was perhaps the most uncomfortable pre-main act drink I’ve had when nothing was already wrong. The venue has great sound as well, which did justice to both acts’ focus on texture over melody.
‘Brats’ was always going to be a Liars single from WIXIW and will surely a be live staple for a while. It’d be a great club track if it wasn’t so strange. And in contrast with their previous tour, which began with WIXIW‘s sedated opener ‘The Exact Colour of Doubt’ (absent from this set), energy was the primary concern.
Frontman Angus Andrew is still a particularly weird and compelling presence in a band that democratically delegates the shifting roles of all three musicians onstage. His arms theatrically swung to the left to divert attention to multi-instrumentalist Aaron Hemphill’s lead vocals after the intro of ‘WIXIW’.
Their comic and menacing characteristics, like the pantomime “We’re doomed, we’re doomed!” vocals in ‘We Fenced Other Garden With the Bones of Our Own’, subvert tone and mood effectively.
That track seems more like a hippy jam from a darker dimension every time I hear it and stands only partially in contrast to the chaotic angles of ‘Broken Witch’, also from 2004′s They Were Wrong, So We Drowned. To say one is calm while the other is malevolent doesn’t quite cut it, but maybe ‘Fenced’ as the moment the acid gathering in the woods begins to turn a little sour and ‘Witch’ as the moment that the orgy/massacre seems like a brilliant idea to everyone, might.
Over six records they’ve pulled together a pretty sturdy back catalogue and any track they whip out is well received. The Sisterworld offering ‘Scarecrows on a Killer Slant’ might be the surest thing from the record whether you take satire or fantasy from the “Stand them in the street with a gun / And then kill them all” lyric.
And though WIXIW surely stands in the upper echelons of Liars output (or at least I said so here) a slightly refined selection of songs was appropriate, the set including ‘Octagon’, ‘Who Is the Hunter’, ‘Brats’, ‘WIXIW’, ‘No. 1 Against the Rush and the criminally snubbed masterpiece last tour ‘Flood to Flood’.
Elsewhere ‘Plaster Casts of Everything’ showed up and was great as always, though no pit this time, and ‘The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack’, also absent from their last tour, made a warm return.
I’ve gushed about Liars’ gigs before and, at risk of repeating myself, little has changed.
Photos by Chris Carr
Video by Chris Carr and James Carney
Additional filming by Graeme Elliott
Words by James Carney