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Creatures Of Love
Shacklewell Arms, London
Wednesday January 16 2013

Not for the first time in my long and undistinguished career of following bands around the rock 'n' roll watering holes of olde England and beyond, I find myself in the back room of a pub, waiting for the sound and vision to kick off. But I don't think I've ever been in a back room quite like this.

Creatures Of LoveWith its entertainingly naif decor - psychedelic beach scenes, apparently painted by the weirdo contingent of the art class - and a plywood arch sectioning off the back of the stage, as if someone decided to create a cosy book nook, this is not so much a gig venue as a rumpus room for hippy kiddies.

Which couldn't be more inappropriate for Creatures Of Love. They're a kind of stormy weather version of Zola Jesus, all thundering drumbeats and lightning flashes of guitar, plaintive synth, and a swoopy, soulful vocal.

Their music billows like rain clouds at the end of a summer's day - dark and towering, lofty and looming. It's all rather incongruously melodramatic for the back room of a pub, but somehow Creatures Of Love make their grand atmospheres work.

That's partly due to the eyeball-melting blaze from the band's own lighting kit - strobes, LED arrays, you name it. Creatures Of Love are almost overwhelmed by their own illuminations, appearing as twitching figures in the light-blast. But that's a welcome change from the underlit gloom most bands seem to favour on stage, and it certainly makes the Creatures Of Love show as visually dramatic as the noise. It's often difficult for bands in small-venue support slots to make an impact. Creatures Of Love's son et lumière show makes plenty.

Out go the lights. On come Blindness. Now there's an appropriate sequence of events.

Actually, the lights don't quite go out, but in the absence of Creatures Of Love's searchlight battery, the venue's own lighting provision - minimal and blue, basically - looks stingily stygian. It also points unhelpfully downwards, so the monitors are bathed in picturesque blue light, but when Blindness vocalist Beth Rettig stands up to sing, her head is cut off by shadow.

It's fortunate, then, that she doesn't do a lot of standing up. She ducks and dives, performing her rock 'n' roll yoga moves as the band clank and churn.

The Blindness sound, thrumming and thumping like a motorized army column coming over a hill, is in full effect. The bass thunks like the Gang Of Four playing the Glitter Band; the guitar stirs up its fuzzy dust cloud, and Beth hollers up a haboob of a vocal, angst virtually swirling about her as she writhes and vogues. 'Broken' is the big tune tonight, all turmoil and rumble, machinery clatter and organic ooze. Which is just the way we like it.

Blindness, of course, are all about the clatter and ooze, the angst and the turmoil, set to that gritty glam sound. The back room of the Shacklewell Arms certainly gets a good working over with the dark stuff tonight. Take that, hippy kiddies.


Blindness: Website | Facebook

Creatures Of Love: Website | Facebook

For more photos from this gig, find the bandfs by name here.

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