Liars Live Review For AU Magazine
October 22, 2010, 4:17 pm
Filed under: Live Reviews

Black Box
Tuesday 10th August 2010

On as shallow a stage as the Black Box has afforded them, Liars look like two-dimensional projections, shadow-puppets in a sylvan netherworld with people for trees. The big Aussie even moves like a marionette. A snake on its end; a man and a half, as the music starts he grows to full height from nowhere. I don’t see him until he is right there.

‘No Barrier Fun’ prowls the prison bars, patrolling the hinterland between band and audience, biding time, unblinking. It’s the missing link between their latest and the allegorical “They Were Wrong…” which anticipates the terrible conclusion to expansionist US foreign policy. One of the great post-9/11 records, the villagers (that would be us) are holed up in the hollow of a mountain as the witches fight back. The swirling terror is deflected back on the terrorists, and we pay with our children’s blood. With this in mind, to imagine what they might make of L.A was fascinating. “Underground, I hear the footsteps of a girl / those sounds were close to paradise / I tied up my ears and i bought us some shades” confides Angus A. They haven’t lost their talent for a killing joke.

A grotesquerie of death-rattles rack up in hellacious fits and spurts, amidst the languid stretches of Morricone-esque guitar, the symphony conducted by the man on the floor in the corner – Angus (here tonight with a crazy-making voice manipulator).The city of existential agony makes itself known, a world where clown-faced housewives watch daytime soaps on astroturf lawns while squidgee men are murdered for their shoes. Madness approaches as WASP couples kill each other over car repayments while their children eat the family dog alive (“There wasn’t much to do / So we just watched TV”: a key line).The sprawl is endless and disconnecting. Expressed in moments of listing reverie, Liars (the anti-lies band) drive soundlessly past the dispossessed until on tonight’s indisputable hero moments – “Scarecrow…’, ‘Scissor’ and ‘…Outside World’ – the malaise bursts with Wagnerian power. It’s all one big gaff. You could very well laugh yourself to death.

The audience stand entranced, seldom are there any departures from the room and the gloom is comforting, if you can resist checking behind you for monsters. Refusing to play it straight, their frontman bucks against our adoration with sardonically toothy banter and groovy dancing – incorporating lager lout scissor-arms and a malfunctioning robot. Part of me hopes that Angus’ “Turn The Volume Up Glasgow!” boob was sly provocation to an overly believing, unsatisfactorily lively crowd. If I didn’t know better i’t be us he’d rather lined up on the street, with our “thoughts nailed to the wall”.

Though, even they can’t resist revelling in Bauhaus cover ‘In The Flat Field’ and anti-yuppie anthem ‘The Overachievers’, with Angus swallowing his mic and the bassist leaning back in ecstasy against the force of a joyfully bludgeoning Julian Gross. The likes of ‘Drip’ and the pretty/vacant ‘Too Much,Too Much’ shimmer like boiling pollution on an asphalt oasis.

The sun drops on ‘Good Night Everything’, plunging the city into darkness and Bacchanalian nightmare: not with a bang but with a whimper. After inserting the jungle-chug of corrosive spell ‘Broken Witch’ and a banging slices of danse macabre in the shape of “They Threw…’ we find ourselves at the gates of closer ‘Proud Evolution’. On “You should be careful / You should be careful” Angus points to the right of the crowd, then to the left, then to the bar and finally fingers his temple like a gun at his head; we are all to blame. Welcome to Sisterworld. Please drive carefully. John Calvert

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