Just think, I could have been at home watching Eurovision, or outside basking in the evening sun on an uncommonly balmy May night, and instead, I’m in a boozer supping Ossett Silver King and getting slowly soused watching bands.
WMRM – better perhaps known as Washing Machine Repair Man – has built something of a cult following in York, having started out at open mic nights in the city. On this outing, the Man (acoustic guitar and shouty vocals) is accompanied by another man on double bass, also delivering shouty vocals. They are essentially a novelty act, but their riotously anarchic off-the-cuff rants and bantz do a fair job of warming the crowd up.
Chambers are an altogether different proposition, and there’s nothing ‘novelty’ about the female duo’s metal-edged attack. With glossy black leggings and electric blue lipstick, and a voice that moves from blank monotone drawl to full-throated roar, Aeris Houlihan is a contradictory and compelling presence. The set’s undergone some changes of late in order to accommodate some new material. Recent single cut ‘Sister Doom’ is a glorious grind, Aeris’ guitar dense and dynamic, while Ellie crashes the kit hard, and ‘Hostile’ is appropriately titled as it hits like a whole fleet of tanks against a fragile structure with devastating effect.
There’s been quite a buzz building around The Lungs, and it’s not hard to grasp why: they look the business, in a supremely postmodern way – a cocktail hybrid of styles. Performance-wise, they’re certainly not lacking in energy or finesse, and they work the twin-vocal dynamic with real skill. But given their image and the reputation that precedes them, their hillbilly knees-ups seem both incongruous and strike as a shade underwhelming. Perhaps they suffer from being sandwiched between Chambers and Post War Glamour Girls that’s the issue. Still, it doesn’t bother the respectable cluster of fans who are clearly here for them, and are getting down to their roustabout racket.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve now seen Post War Glamour Girls live. One of the reasons I always come back – apart from the fact they’re an outstanding live band, and consistent with it – is that no two shows are ever the same. In this context, tonight’s set – new album, ‘Swan Songs’ played in sequence – comes as a shock, given that the album launch at The Brudenell last month also saw ‘Swan Songs’ played from beginning to end. But then, it’s something I’ve personally been doing a lot lately: there isn’t a weak track, and it’s an album that flows perfectly.
There may be no feathers tonight, but they’re stronger and tighter than ever, with the songs having been embedded over the course of the tour so far. And much as they looked at home in Leeds at the venue which lies at the hub of the Leeds scene, they look to be relishing the intimate atmosphere of the Fulford Arms with its 8” high stage: James Smith gets out into the audience and is practically at the bar while he rants and raves and spews vitriol: Alice is cooler and more measured but is a terrifying presence as she looms forward, lofting her Rickenbacker and hammering out thunderous bass notes and delivering glacial backing vocals.
It’s the contrasts which mean they’re a band pulling in five different directions that ultimately make Post War Glamour Girls work: James Thorpe is understated in his presence, but brings texture and counterpoint to the songs, and repeated listens to the ‘Swan Songs’ reveal more ever more detail. Meanwhile, Ben drums methodically. There’s also a fifth body on stage, anonymous and practically invisible, but the additional keyboard and guitar work makes a vital to the overall sound.
They don’t leave the stage when the album’s done, so the appropriately huge rendition of ‘Sestra’ isn’t an encore. It is, however, a triumphant conclusion to an intense show, and one which once again saw Post War Glamour Girls confound expectations.