Live Review: Sleater-Kinney

Words by Dave Bowes // Pictures by Alex Woodward

The Sleater-Kinney reunion really has been a breakneck one. Within half a year, the world had one of its most beloved and truly righteous bands back together, not just for a whistlestop tour of the usual haunts, but with a new album to boot and the fact that No Cities To Love was such a thrilling and vital addition to their catalogue is just another reason that tonight is something of a magical occasion for many.

Packing as much into their allotted time as possible, they blast through a set which finds little distinction between fond favourites like Oh!, a doo-wopping crowd pleaser made all the more massive with the inclusion of Sky Larkin’s Katie Harkin to round out the hook-friendly sound, and the ferocious kick of “No Anthems”, Carrie Brownstein a jagged yet sinuous counterpart to Corin Tucker’s tremulous warble.

What the band eschew in banter (barring a tribute to the just-announced departure of Zayn Malik from One Direction), they redouble in conviction. There’s an unstoppable sense of purpose in the trio, Brownstein and Tucker duelling guitars to the audience’s delight while Janet Weiss delivers a staggering turn, her sparsely expressive fills and rattles less a framework for her counterparts’ efforts than a guiding hand.

If there was ever a recipe for the perfect show, Sleater-Kinney nail it tonight. It has the classics, the welcomesurprises and the new-found favourites; they deliver the goods with an exhilarating blend of conviction and showmanship; most of all, they show the room what they’d been missing all these years. As they head into an encore of “Gimme Love”, Tucker delivers a searing cry for equality, exclaiming that while some things may have changed while they were away, they haven’t changed enough. Well, that’s why bands like this are needed, and we’re grateful that they have returned with such force.

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