Live Review: Subliminal Girls, The Charlemagnes + George Street Kids at The Hope & Anchor, London

It’s 2007, we’re all dressed up in our tightest jeans and our pointiest shoes. We’re at our physical peak, out on the town to preen and be seen and jump around to the latest sounds to emerge from London’s ever evolving music scene. Except it’s not. It’s 2022, we’re (most of us) a little greyer around the temples and looser around the waistband and are being transported back to those halcyon days by a band who’ve soundtracked our last decade and a half. It’s funny how music can do that to you sometimes, and there are few bands as capable of instigating sonic time travel in me as Subliminal Girls, who act as some sort of musical fountain of youth whenever I catch them live.

But before we get onto all that, opening act George Street Kids are taking us to another era entirely with their punchy classic punk tunes. The Isle of Wight four-piece win plenty of new friends amongst us Top Islanders with their catchy songs laced with humour and their general sense of not giving a single fuck.

Following on, The Charlemagnes serve up scuzzy garage rock with a strighter bat that their predecessors, but are no less enjoyable for it. Drawing more from the sounds of New York and Detroit (and particularly putting me in mind of US garage rock revivalists The Pattern, a band I’ve not thought of in years but was delighted to be reminded of), this is music with a cool head but plenty of fire in its belly.

I’ve been watching Subliminal Girls live for fifteen years now (albeit with the occasional haitus), and as with anything that you’ve followed for that period of time, it’s always fascinating to see what as changed and what has stayed the same. The most obvious difference is the absence of keyboard player Nicky Biscuit, now living overseas, and that rather than going for a straight swap, they’ve bought in Steve Horry (formerly of Joyzine faves 586 and The 18 Carat Love Affair) as a second guitarist. The change in instrumentation gives the songs, both old and new, a different dimension, trading some of Sub Girls’ more catchy indie pop elements for a little more power to help the choruses soar that little bit further into the stratosphere. However, their knack for a sparkling tune and penchant for puncturing the pompous with a well-chosen lyric remain intact, and whether you’re a long-term fan or are just hearing of them for the first time today, they’re still well worth an investment of your time.

They also appear to be having more fun on stage than I’ve ever seen before, with frontman Jim Rhesus more animated than ever and bassist Danny Le Pelley locked in an ongoing battle with new recruit Horry lto see who can perform the lowest stadium rock guitar lunge (we’ll call it a draw). That energy is infectious and seeps through a crowd just as delighted to hear old favourites ‘Self Obsession Is An Art Form’ and ‘Mirror’ as sumptuous new single ‘Catch’ (premiered on Joyzine last week). The set ends with a raucous rendition of debut single ‘Burn Koko’, with drummer Arran Goodchild placing a floor tom in the audience for us to pound away at with broad grins on our faces.

We look forward to our next rejuvination session soon – it’s cheaper than botox and a lot more fun.

Find out more on Subliminal Girls’ Facebook Page

Article by Paul Maps

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