Blood Red Shoes - Electric Ballroom, London

Possibly the loudest duo working in rock today, Blood Red Shoes’ gig at the Electric Ballroom was their biggest headline show to date but if there were any nerves, they were kept backstage. Blistering through a set that crammed 16 tracks into just over an hour, their flawless orchestra of crushing riffs and crashing drums could not have failed to impress even the most stubborn of critics. The only shame is that a show of this calibre was confined to the Ballroom and not the Brixton that the band deserves for the wonderful racket they create.

It’s not some tuneless dirge though; what’s particularly impressive about the duo is their supreme control of their weapons which is key to what makes their live performances so thrilling. Examples are numerous throughout the set but the most striking display comes during the opening to ‘It Is Happening Again’ where the soft-hard dynamic is perfectly conveyed with not a drum beat put wrong during Laura-Mary’s solos. This control means that even when the duo go hell for leather with an all-out guitar and drums attack, you can still make out the main riffs and the tracks are never in danger of merging into one endless stream of noise, resulting in their live sets being as audibly exciting as their recorded material is.

And make no mistake about it, when Blood Red Shoes need to go hell for leather, they do it in some fashion. The opening to ‘Keeping It Close’ is particularly brutal and similar can be said about ‘I Wish I Was Someone Better’ just with added frenetic energy. Often it feels like they could give you tinnitus with each note struck but you won’t care as the sheer raw, visceral thrill of hearing balls-out rock live can’t be matched. Add to that the fact that watching Laura-Mary wielding her axe swathed in smoke is possibly one of the most arresting visual sights in live music today, and you have a gig that is as unforgettable as it is potentially deafening.

It’s easy to wax lyrical about the duo’s musical capabilities but it’s also their personalities that catch the attention tonight as well. Unusually for the band, the roles are almost reversed with Laura-Mary’s usual muted, somewhat moody, stage persona transformed as she’s easily the chattier of the two, recalling seeing AFI play the Ballroom when she was 15 and thinking it was cool and joking how she’s not sure she feels the same about the band now. That’s not to say Steven takes a complete backseat, popping up every now and then for banter with Laura-Mary particularly about how she stops him taking a whiskey break. They’re never shy of thanking the audience each chance they get either which leaves you with the impression that whereas some bands treat their biggest show to date as just another gig, tonight really means everything to Blood Red Shoes and they ensure they put every bit of their youthful exuberance into it.

Such is the reverence that either a) the fans already held them in or b) tonight’s gig instilled into the crowd, they even get away with not playing fan fave ‘ADHD’ as a closer, despite numerous shout outs for it, and play Fire Like This closer ‘Colours Fade’ instead. It showcases another notch on their bow with the chorus generating a quite superb psychedelic wall of noise as Steven’s repeated “ah ah ah ah” bore their way into your conscience and reverberate long after the set has finished. It’s such a beast of a closer that no adjustments would need to be made to make it have the same impact in a stadium, not even the volume.

They may only be relative unknowns to anyone outside of the indie/alternative rock scene if you take into consideration the commercial performances of both albums, but Blood Red Shoes possess such ability and confidence in their craft that they would become un-ignorable to anyone who witnesses one of their gigs. Perhaps album number three will be the one that deservedly propels them into the public eye, making the Ballroom pale in comparison to the stages they will headline; for now, the knowledgeable amongst us can just revel in one of the most under-rated rock acts around.

Set List

IT'S GETTING BORING BY THE SEA
LIGHT IT UP
IT IS HAPPENING AGAIN
I WISH I WAS SOMEONE BETTER
COUNT ME OUT
KEEPING IT CLOSE
SAY SOMETHING, SAY ANYTHING
WHEN WE WAKE
THIS IS NOT FOR YOU
ONE MORE EMPTY CHAIR
HEARTSINK
YOU BRING ME DOWN
DON'T ASK
---------------------------------
WE GET BORED
DOESN'T MATTER MUCH
COLOURS FADE

Last updated: 18/04/2018 14:22:54

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