2022 has been a pretty damn good year for live music, and an excellent gig from this intriguing post-punk band was a great way to cap it off.
The timing for this concert was interesting, merely a day after I returned from my two-week trip to Cambodia. I spent Monday off work and mostly in bed, making up for the lack of sleep on the flight back home, and though I was a tad more refreshed by the evening, I still felt stranded in that weird dislocated state that lingers after an overseas holiday.
I tried to remember the last time I was at the Corner Hotel, and realised to my shock that it’s been at least eight years since I saw a live show there. It’s never been one of my favourite venues to be honest, in no small part thanks to the late starting times that are not kind to someone who prefers to be in bed by midnight. This time, thankfully, the main act was set for the practically kid-friendly 9.30pm.
My lovely friend who went to the gig with me has a case of tall man guilt, so after arriving we stayed at the back of the venue and watched the remainder of the fairly decent warm-up set by the Australian band Girl and Girl. People watching was also fun, as the crowd was an entertaining random mix of young hipsters and older rockers who were probably fans of the original post-punk wave back in the day.
I really should have given Dry Cleaning’s newest record a listen before the show, however I still enjoyed the new songs mixed in with the more familiar highlights from the band’s debut album, New Long Leg. I was wondering if the deliberately deadpan, monotone vocal style of the front woman Florence Shaw would get too, well, monotone over an hour and a half, but luckily she’s a compelling enough performer to pull it off.
Live, there’s an extra visual contrast between her sardonic, detached spoken word musings and the intense energy and guitar-driven noise generated by the trio of musicians. Next to her frenetic bandmates, Shaw cut a still figure and an unlikely presence with her long mermaid hair and a long white dress, looking something like a ghostly librarian. At times, her strange gestures and facial expressions made me think of Aldous Harding’s British cousin, though in Shaw’s case it felt more as if she was playing an eccentric, exaggerated character; in between the songs, she was friendly and smiling. At one point she stepped away from the mic to let her fellow band member – and a birthday boy – take over for a fun chaotic cover of TV Casualty by The Misfits.
By the end of the night, I was feeling pretty wiped out, but very happy with this finish to my year of live music. Here’s to more amazing gigs in 2023!