Blood Red Shoes - Manchester Academy 3

"Suck your dick ? I'll f***ing bite it off." Ouch. Laura Mary-Carter might have a name that suggests otherwise but she certainly takes no prisoners. There are cheers and the moron is silenced. Crowd management is to the fore tonight as Blood Red Shoes bring their scabrous, serrated indie metal to a packed and (uncommonly) partisan Academy 3. A good-natured, if not slightly irriatating, stage invasion takes place towards the end of the set during 'It's Getting Boring by the Sea' and early on Steven Ansell steps out from behind his drum kit to sort out a nasty 'disagreement' in the mosh pit : "Listen, cut it out. People show each other the proper respect at our shows." Well done, that man.

Over the past year, I've developed a particular love for the Brighton two piece. Despite not troubling the fashionistas to any great degree (strange - the rarity value of both being a duo AND female presence is usually enough) Blood Red Shoes have built a properly committed fanbase and, to me, are starting to scrub up like real contenders. Tonight their dual attack of guitar and drums welds febrile force to songs that bloom, rather than wilt, under the tumult. Two is such good company. Imagine how the angular strictures of their songs would be diminished by the comforting presence of bass. The clear influence of the mighty Sleater-Kinney, whose command of bass-less guitar shapes was second to none, looms large. 'Doesn't Matter Much' kicks things off. The sound envelops. Steven comments positively on both audience and their own performance; I do like that. As if to emphasise just how deeply the songs from debut album 'Box of Secrets' have taken hold with the converted, just about every intro is cheered. 'ADHD' quickens the pulse. 'Say Something, Say Anything' has the place bubbling over. 'This is Not for You' looms over us, gigantic and 'Gigantic'. More so than on record the harmonies thrill, Laura, in particular, showing more muscle than recordings would suggest. As the atmosphere ramps, you can see them digging in, stepping out, feeding off the crowd. Three new songs : all introduced minus titles, all greeted like favourites, all having the gall to register. Album number two has promise already.

If they were less capable, or less inspired, it might be that their image (they look great and, hey, there's only two of them !) would still be enough to get them through. And, to be perfectly honest, until I belatedly gave their album the chance it so seriously deserves, they were way down my list. But that was wrong, I was wrong. Blood Red Shoes hark back to a time when the British alternative was brittle and ennervating. As I say, worthy contenders. At the very least.

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