The Liars / Miss Black America plus guests - Night & Day - 4.8.02

Proving that how you play the guitar is just as an important, if not more, than what you're playing Jackie O hit the stage with the sort of rock theatrics you'd expect in the spandexed poodle mopped 1980s. Experimental garage jams explode with endless songs segueing into a mass of distortion and freestyle noodlings, backed up by fiercely incessant drums. Fronted by a singer who combines all the best moves of Bowie and Jarvis with a knowing nod that he displays the same sort of utter pretentiousness when buying six pack lager shandy's at his local Spar shop. On the other hand The Strap Ons are clearly a band who've spend there Saturday nights studying old Ramones bootleg videos, copied every single move and then forgotten to write the tunes. Still when the mass of bodies on stage collapse into a debauched heap it elevates itself above the music.

Unbelievably this is the first time Miss Black America have played Manchester on a seemingly endless 12 month stretch of gigs which has ensured at the very least if you haven't heard the music, you will at least know their name. Unfairly tagged with Manic's comparisons at this early stage the band display the sort of self belief that can start a revolution rather than the nihilistic attitude of the Manic's which simply admitted defeat and sat down to watch Ian Woosnam play golf and drink lukewarm tea. Frontman Seymour Glass forever twitching agitatedly like an epileptic who buys cheap underwear from charity shops and yet has a possessed stare which commands your constant attention while spitting out words that speak for every desperate soul in every nowhere city. "Talk Hard" tackles the subject of how were all tagged useless from the moment we step into the outside world and having that belief in yourself not to ever give into a system which is is set up to crush us with the monotony of everyday life. While their theme tune "Miss Black America" urges us to "let our blood run cold" and "let your lungs explode" before hanging on with our last breath to "Shout it out - we are Miss Black America". Doing it 100% independently Miss Black America are the most important band Britain has seen in the past 5 years.

The last time The Liars played the city was supporting Sonic Youth across at the Manchester Academy. Clearly they seem to have won over a few fans since last time they played to a virtually empty venue, but try as I may I fail to see why. Somewhere between the Beastie Boys and The Faint the reference points are all too easy to spot and their Aussie frontman just seems like a walking cliché with his backward hat and lanky big bird persona. Beneath all the mess there is a real sense that if they just took some time out developing the sound they could be onto something. The disco-ska-punk element is a stroke of genius not seen since X Ray Spex's and is due for a revival, so ditch the rock and dodgy hip-hop posturing and streamline the sound, while at the same time expanding the titles such as "They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top" to their logical ridiculous conclusions.

Alex McCann

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