Not a loss but not quite the full win either, last Saturday saw Ladies anticipated return to Studio 2 for the release of their new single. The show, essentially series of boys with guitars, had a slightly stilted beginning: sadly sparsely populated perhaps due to trying to follow last bank holiday’s bizarrely planned double festival. Having seen them a few times Ladies do tend to pull a bigger crowd, however those present made the best of it and the performances all in all were pretty positive.
Kicking things off was Sean, of The Shunt, carving up the first set with a faux Turner-Gallagheresque drawl that I couldn’t bring myself to see beyond sadly, however it always takes some guts to kick off a depopulated show on your lonesome so I suppose you had to hand it to him.
Up next we had mr Ben Burke, frontman of The Change, playing an acoustic set which was pretty enjoyable, generally upbeat, indie tunes but tinted with some old world Americana folk musings which bled through nicely every now and again. Mildly reminiscent of Ocean Colour Scene and even The Animals at times, his tune ‘Winds of Change’ is an anthem that wouldn’t have sounded out of place at a civil rights march in the late 60s. Part the romantic troubadour, part political dreamer, perhaps in danger of falling too far into lyrical cliché, Burke is undeniably a decent performer, a strong guitarist with songwriting that shows promise.
Watchtowers came into view next, bringing some energy with a strong first gig after three years out of sight. Part Ska, part scouse indie rock it was a shame there weren’t more bodies around to fully realise the raucous nature of a great fun live band. Although sometimes limited by the tendency to over rely on meaty guitar power chords, this is maybe partly necessary to fill out the sound in a trio, they more than atoned for this however with a super tight rhythm section. Indeed there were times it felt like the instrumental sections were the highest peaks in part because they were great yet also partly because I can’t stand Alex Turner voice mimics. Overall Watchtowers were great fun and I imagine they would thrive even better with a throng of sweating drunks cheering them on. Maybe don’t end a set with a ten minute version of Jonny B Goode however.
And finally, Ladies and Ge… well Ladies, the headliners took to the stage and played a fantastic set. Having seen them several times now over the last couple of years I can say that these guys have come a long way. They perhaps had a pattern of being a little sloppy with their timing, occasionally feeling a little flat or underrehearsed in the past, which felt at least partly forgivable because they played all these singalong tunes. There was no evidence of that on Saturday: the band were locked in excellently and sounded tight and rearing to go. Not only this but their songwriting has certainly matured; frontman Chas Moody, whose appearance seems to ever increasingly resemble one of those Beatles tribute bands you see down at the Cavern, certainly knows how to write a tune. Although it may not be the most progressive sound and even sometimes bordering on libertine-esque pastiche, it doesn’t really matter because the reality is that the songs are just way too infectiously singable. The harmonies provided by Sam Branch (Bass) and Mitia Smernov (Drums) perfectly compliment his voice and lend some great layers to the hooks in their songs. They played tune after familiar tune and everyone there had no choice but to sing along: Pretty in My Heart, Eyes of the Dodge, Trigger for Love to name but a few. And of course there was the new single which they’d teamed up with Ocean Waves productions to record, which has an unforgettable opening riff and is generally a very well crafted pop song. They finished off the night very professionally and weren’t disheartened by their uncharacteristically low turnout.
In general there is one criticism I might make of Ladies which is that without shade how can you fully appreciate the light? I’m fairly sure that not one of their songs is in a minor key, is it maybe time to look at building a slightly darker and deeper side to their sound? Perhaps that say more about me as a listener however than about them as the artists. Whatever the case it’s worth keeping an eye on Ladies, they are young, full of promise and a wonderful innocent charm. Sometimes You’ve Just Got to Lose is out now on Spotify and itunes.
Review by Barney Goodall