Live Review: Psycho Comedy – Liverpool

Psycho Comedy

Phase One, Liverpool, 15th February 2020

Words and Photos by Gary Lambert

If there was any doubt of the love and support that Psycho Comedy receive, it was physically manifested when walking into Phase One early for their album launch and seeing the venue already packed. Obviously with it being an album launch, there was a healthy smattering of supportive friends and family in attendance, but in addition there were plenty of regular gig goers, members of other Liverpool bands, and each of the writers and photographers I had seen on Facebook earlier in the day talking of how great the album, Performance Space Number One, is. Note: most of them were not here to work but have fun.

Charged with the responsibility of opening up the celebrations were Uncle Jane. Obviously, Uncle Jane are very much a serious band, but there is humour and joy in their post-punk style as guitar riffs offer fun coupled with the brooding intensity of the shared vocal workimg_7751 and wonderfully brutalist rhythm structure. I don’t think the room in Phase One was the best location for Uncle Jane as the wide stage and audience standing ten foot from it didn’t create the intimate, intensity needed for that ultimate connection. Their music feels illicit and subversive, like Cold War era spies have made up a band in Berlin for their equivalent of World War One’s football truce. If you get to see Uncle Jane in a venue that feels clandestine, then I would suggest you were on to something special.

If the first band offered us post-punk, then Silent K offer us post-punk pop. This set was a strange one for me as I started off thoroughly unimpressed by what I felt was wacky and zany, but as Silent K progressed I grew to enjoy their Electric Six / OK GO style of grown-up-yet-fun music. I think it helped that I moved further away from the stage and the antics of their frontman who was filled with the energy of a children’s entertainer. I was in quite a serious mood, but the audience who naturally shared a Saturday night bonhomie with the band as well as each other lapped it up.

Then it came time for the headliners. It was great to see the love and cheers they received from the audience as they took to the stage. It took a good minute for them to settle down in order to play their clarion call song, Psycho Comedy. Like The Clash with Clash City Rockers (and This is Radio Clash, and subsequent B-side Radio Clash), it feels brave and ambitious to announce yourself to music – but Psycho Comedy have gone one step further and open their debut album with their title track. Opening up with it is like a boxer’s walk on music before a title fight. There’s no option to hide or ease in, you’re in the spotlight. And Psycho Comedy thrived in the spotlight with the crowd now stood as close to the stage as a mature audience gets, you could feel the pressure crank up.

img_7749And Psycho Comedy performed better than I have ever seen or heard them before. Each member of the band seemed to push the collective to greater heights. It was a musical unity, and every time you felt like it could overspill too soon, the poetry of Matthew Thomas Smith punctuated the bubbling excitement perfectly. It was a musical highwire act lead by singer-guitarist Shaun Powell, dramatic and dangerous; the rhythms of Jack Williams and Connor Duff on drums and bass respectively building the tension for the audience; and the guitar play of Lydia McGhee and Jack Thompson creating the atmospheric flourishes like whirling aural spotlights.

The night was a wonderful success and reward for a band who have served their time admirably and produced not just music but art. However the hard work starts now as there are thousands of people across the country who do not yet know how much they need the dramatic music and performance of Psycho Comedy in their lives.

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