Live Review: Psycho Comedy – Liverpool

Psycho Comedy

23 February 2019, The Shipping Forecast, Liverpool

Words & Photos: Gary Lambert

Despite the stoic image of being a band who wish to start an uprising against the ruling classes before they want to make people dance, there’s no doubt that Psycho Comedy are excited about their forthcoming, breakneck trip to New York. For one, they had booked in a warm up gig and called it “A New York Minute” which was a big clue, but standing in the basement of The Shipping Forecast, the excitement was obvious with every track that was played before and in between the bands as we were treated to songs and bands that you would closely associate with The Big Apple. There was no tacky Frank Sinatra blasting out like the end of your uncle Bernie’s retirement do, instead we had the likes of Iggy Pop, MC5 and, most often, The Velvet Underground.

Opening the night was The Lemonade Fix. This four piece were definitely inspired by the past, but their psychedelic garage rock was energetic, fun, and most aptly a vein of music which could run directly from the Hudson to the Mersey. Yes, that vein has been mined repeatedly, but you don’t stop digging for gold just because someone else has found some. The scuzz and buzz within their music was powerful enough to occupy the mind as well as the ears as there was a heady level of complexity within it. This was music which had been crafted as well as jammed into existence.

Chupacabra hit us with a set of post-punk crunching numbers which had the feeling of instant classics to them without any hint of offering any populist flavours. For a band with such serious sounding music, I was surprised with how much fun they had on stage and should you ever be struggling for an adjective then charismatic would definitely be usable to describe their frontman. Their drummer was equally iconic in his performance, but I cannot think of a way to capture the impression he gave without it sounding negative. Cartoonish would possibly be the best term I can find at this point, but it was great seeing a sticksmith enjoying himself so much whilst bashing the kit with gleeful abandon.


Now Psycho Comedy are more than a band. They are a gang for whom the world around them matters. Every moment in their set is sculpted to have the maximum artistic power from the singing and peacocking of Shaun Powell, to the spoken word, statuesque dynamism provided by poet Matthew Thomas Smith’s regular interludes within the set. If Shaun’s voice and manner is that of a Mick Jagger if he had been turned on by Kerouac and coffee instead of rock n roll, Matthew is reminiscent of old TV clips where dockers, miners and other unionists conveyed powerful sentiments in hypnotic, gruff, inspiring accents. How does this combine with the musicality of the band? Imagine if Generation Terrorists was recorded in an era of fuzzy black and white televisions, before Bowie, but after Dylan went electric. I could not recommend going to see Psycho Comedy heartily enough. They will not be to everybody’s taste, but if you like music to raise your conscience, consciousness and soul more than your pulse than you’ve got a potential new favourite.

When they hit New York, they are playing about four gigs in two days or some such madness. They’re going to give another reason for that famous city to stay awake.

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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