Throwing Muses | Live Review

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Jacknifing from album to album, the band touch upon some of their greatest work.

If one thing can be said about Throwing Muses, it’s that they know what they’re doing and they do it well. By the time I arrived at the venue – a few minutes past doors – the Trinity was nearly full to capacity and sweltering hot as a result. The audience (mostly) seemed to consist of middle-aged men and women; a devout following that quite clearly had turned out in droves. With ex-Throwing Muses founder Tanya Donelly tagged as the support, this wasn’t at all surprising.

Donelly’s set – which consisted of parts Throwing Muses, Belly and solo material – was naturally familiar to many in the audience who’d followed the trajectory of her career. It’s all to easy for established musicians to cast aside their past to promote new material, but Donelly struck the balance perfectly, which the audience more than warmed to in turn. Whilst the opening songs of the set, ‘Mass Ave’ and ‘Meteor Shower’ came off a bit alt-country and were slow-burners, the set’s closing songs – where ‘gloom-pop’ songstress Laura Kidd of She Makes War joined Donelly on stage – provoked a much more lively reaction from the already sweat-drenched crowd.

When Throwing Muses finally graced the stage, and stormed through a choice selection of tracks from their latest LP ‘Purgatory/Paradise’, the reaction was highly positive. Hersh’s husky vocal delivery and the rough, grungy sound on songs such as ‘Sunray Venus’ – I think partly owed to accidental distortion in the amps; pleasing mistakes if so – were strangely appealing qualities. These choppy reproductions of quite brief songs did lead to confusion at the end of ‘Dripping Trees’, when Hersh kindly reassured the audience that the song was over.

The second half of the set turned to the Muses’ illustrious back catalogue as Donelly joined the band on stage. Jacknifing from album to album, the band touched upon some of their greatest work – including two choice cuts from ‘The Real Ramona’: ‘Red Shoes’ and ‘Say Goodbye’; ‘Devil’s Roof’ from ‘Hunkpapa’; and ‘Green’ from their first self-titled LP. This later half is perhaps what the majority of people had come to see and Throwing Muses didn’t disappoint; their renditions, if anything, have improved with age.

Throwing Muses certainly haven’t been the most active band in recent years, but it just goes to show – that even taking a ‘hiatus’ that would match the lifespan of some of their contemporaries – the band’s talent hasn’t diminished as a result. Side projects – Hersh and bassist Bernard Georges 50 Foot Wave – have ensured the band’s foothold on the face of Alternative Rock, and prevented any unfortunate missteps. For sure, this is a band that has always maintained a solid sense of identity throughout the years, while never afraid of change. But most importantly, paramount to all, Throwing Muses are just a bloody great act to see live.

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