Just Handshakes We’re British were at pains to remind this Manchester crowd which side of the Pennines they were from: “we’re from Leeds, West Yorkshire” they told us repeatedly “and we prefer our roses white”. This sounds much more confrontational than it actually was. The four-piece in person are as likeable as their music if a touch more retiring.
Their cutesy female-fronted Casiotone indie-pop got more muscular and complex as the rhythm section became more prominent but they never fully threw off the tentativeness of an opening act. This was not helped by how shy singer Clara appeared – fixed stares at her keyboard or occasionally at the rafters gave the impression she thought any eye contact with the crowd would cause her to forget the words. Their banter might not be about winning fans but their music certainly is - they just need to loosen up a bit more. Maybe become less British?
This is my first time seeing The Loves at what sadly turns out to be their last ever Manchester gig – the band call it a day after ten years and multiple line-up changes at their Valentine's Day gig at the Lexington. The fact this Valentine's Day gig isn’t actually on the 14th February seems to sum up the so-close-but-so-far nature of the band. The seven-piece mix Carnaby Street couture, classic 60s pop and surreal humour: "This is our Christmas single. It didn’t do too well. It’s called ‘Motherfuckers’".
It was all delivered with an unpolished irreverence and a devil-may-care attitude of a band with only weeks left to live. They were joined by a former guitarist who hadn’t played with them for six years for one number, Jamie Holman from Tompaulin sang the voice of Jesus in 'It’s...The End of the World' and singer Simon Love threw the last remaining copies of their vinyl single ‘December Boy’ into the crowd with abandon. The fact they had forgotten to bring any copies of their latest album to sell just cements their loser status-cum-wayward genius. Great heartfelt-but-shambolic fun. Is it too soon to start the campaign to get The Loves to reform?
Allo Darlin’ are frequently described as a “fan’s band”. And tonight’s capacity show was certainly full of their own fans with most of the songs of last year’s wonderful debut album being sung back to them word-perfect. The set also included a few new songs included the one dedicated to Darren Hayman (“you’re so beautiful and you don't know”) that they played in front of said singer at last September’s End of the Road Festival.
Elizabeth said she felt ‘overwhelmed’ at one point during this gig but they never looked it - from the outset the band were determined and upbeat, continually bouncing about on their toes. The sound mix at the front was not the best but that didn’t take away from the hot, sweaty, bouncy fun: despite the heartbreak in some of their lyrics Allo Darlin’ just induce happiness. And then with first encore, the heart-stopping ‘Tallulah’ performed solo by Elizabeth, they show they can also induce tears. My only complaint was that 11 songs was just not enough.
This week Allo Darlin play Bristol, Cardiff and Cambridge, then London the week after before setting off for Europe. The self-titled debut album is available now from Fortuna Pop.