28th February | Fleece
Photos: Michael Brumby
“This is for all of you. Don’t let the bastards grind you down, because they really are bastards and they will grind you down.”
Sweet indie kid Katy J Pearson and her band of moustachioed troubadours kicked off proceedings at The Fleece on Thursday night. Quickly following were Man & The Echo – a band who, at first glance, just look like your typical “dad in the pub” outfit, but soon snatch you up with their quick North-Western wit, catchy hooks and sharpness in taking down hecklers. After rousing the crowd with a dedicatory track to the mutually-disliked front-rower (‘A Capable Man’) the foursome stumbled off stage to join us for the main event.
There was a huge buzz around Louisa Roach as she walked onstage, full of conviction, shoulders draped in a heavy, leather jacket and pink-tinged quiff flopped over one eye. She stood tall in front of the mic and graphic illustrations flickered in the background as the epic guitar riff opened to ‘Resister’. Her latest album opener and favoured tour track, Roach spat harsh into the mic, slightly muffled in her unique way, lubricating the crowd for a night of air punching and knee bouncing.
The set started off with a heavy slew of singles from Roach’s new album Revolution Of Mind, peppered with low-tempo cuts from her debut-released back in 2016. ‘Since You Were Not Mine’ broke the onslaught of thumping drums and melodic keys, providing a short pause for Roach to introduce herself and her band. The crowd were delighted to listen to her give a short intro to ‘If You Could See’; “It’s written from the perspective of scientists from the future, sending down a message to tell Earth to get it’s shit together.”
Roach’s political themes are impossible to miss. They litter her lyrics, plaster the projected backdrop in ‘FREE IMMIGRATION’ and ‘NO BORDERS’ posters, and provide the backbone to She Drew The Gun’s sonic identity as champions of the Average Joe. Roach is a woman of humility, huge love and huge rage in equal measure that’s channelled deliciously into speak-song breakdowns (‘Revolution Of Mind’ and ‘Resister Reprise’) and smashing electric guitar solos (‘Paradise’ and ‘Arm Yourself’). She spat the kind of radical shit you can really sink your teeth into: be nice and take care of one another. Oh, and fuck the Tories.
Despite a broken guitar string and a couple of amp issues, Roach and her gang’s set at The Fleece was nothing short of heroic. Ballsy and bolshy lyrics built their identity but it was the wailing guitars and sneaky pop melodies that really drew you in. Slinking off for a couple of seconds before rapturous applause brought her back to the stage, Roach dedicated her first encore song to those who inspire her (“Bonus points if you know all of these women,”) citing Patti Smith, Madonna and Amy Winehouse amongst a long list of others.
It was a touching moment and one that brought the whole crowd back down to earth, before closing out with some final words of wisdom in a gritty 90s dance cover: “Let’s come together/Right now/Oh yeah/In sweet harmony.”
See the video for ‘Resister’ here: