Dirty Laces brought a successful year to an end for them with an intimate Sunday night show at The Deaf Institute in Manchester with a selection of old favourites, new material and a couple of surprise covers. They were supported by the return of The Slumdogs after a ten month absence and a short covers set from Becki Fishwick.
Becki Fishwick opens proceedings with a five song set of covers accompanied by just Cobain Jones on an acoustic guitar. This allows her impressive passionate vocals to deliver her own take on classic tracks like Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, Aretha Franklin’s Natural Woman and Candy Staton’s You’ve Got The Love. She tells the story of how both her and Cobain ended up playing Kendal Calling after sending songs to Tim Burgess before an intriguing version of The Charlatans’ The Only One I Know before finishing on Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree. Throughout her ability to navigate different vocal styles stands out and with her personality written all across these covers we can’t wait to hear her deliver her originals at some point in the future.
This is The Slumdogs’ first gig for ten months as they’ve taken time out to take stock of the band’s direction. They still have their post-punk roots in the effervescent opener and recent single Brainwashed and set-closer Dead Or Alive but their transition is more evident in what comes in between. Where Bobby is still a front man in the true sense of the word, lead vocals are now shared with Elliot who also now plays keys on a number of tracks and the result is songs that replaces the hard edges with a smoother more familiar warmth without ever feeling like they’ve compromised what they’re about. The crowd love them and rightly so.
This is our first time watching Dirty Laces performing their own show after catching them on the street outside Vinyl Revival for Record Store Day and then on a side stage at Bingley Live and what’s evident even from the instrumental intro track is the scale of ambition in their sound. The singles Back Of The Line, Moving Pictures and Set In Stone feel like they’ve been on the weights and pack a much more knockout punch.
Having sold out Gorilla earlier in the year this is an intimate show to cap a successful year in Manchester, Charlie telling us matter-of-factly that they haven’t played here before and wanted to. It’s not difficult to see why they’ve had such a great year - these are big, bold swaggering rock songs that pull no punches and live is undoubtedly their natural environment. They sound huge, their light show a statement of intent and their musicianship is very much to the fore, impressive solos and an intuitive cord between the two Lukes, Tom and Jacob that lays the foundation for Charlie to deliver his increasingly impressive vocals. You sense the confidence running through the band right now and they use it to impose themselves on this most picturesque of Manchester venues.
The longer set allows us to appreciate the range in their songs too. A new song called You is a real standout, a instrumental intro the start of a journey that builds, eyes fixed on the road ahead, that feels like the work of a more established band but still with the freshness of one starting their route. They slow things down on Otherside where Charlie picks up an acoustic guitar and shows a different side to them.
They play two covers, bringing Becki onto stage for a duet of Bowie’s Heroes and finishing with Charlie and Becki taking on War Is Over (in our view one of the few great Christmas songs) before the rest of the band join them on stage to lead the singalong throwing inflatable instruments out to us in the process.
It’s an impressive end to the year for a band that’s snuck up on the rails of young bands making an impact in Manchester right now. If you see past the paisley artwork and the associations that might bring to mind you’ll find a band that’s proud of their influences, but has shed many of them as they’ve progressed and blossomed into a supremely confident five-piece set to place their stamp on 2020.
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