Girlpool w/ IAN SWEET – Gorilla, Manchester – 08/09/2017

Jilian Medford certainly lives up to IAN SWEET’s name; she’s by far one of the politest singer-songwriters you’re ever going to have the pleasure of seeing live. Appearing as a solo act tonight, Medford smashes her way through ‘If You’re Crying’ from 2016’s eponymous EP and tracks from debut Shapeshifter – bringing some extra magic to already lovely material as a lone performer. Everyone’s in awe not only of the New Yorkers’ powerful voice, but her onstage chatter too. “It’s my first time in Europe and I tried Monster Munch” she grins. “I had pickled onion but was intrigued by the roast beef – now I can’t ever go back to normal chips!”

It might be a late start due to an M6 oil spill that the band are more than apologetic for – but Girlpool and the crowd don’t give a fuck. Boosting their live outfit to five with Joshua Sushman, Lauren Early and Ross Chait, L.A. duo Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad are faultless as they kick off with “123” from 2017’s sophomore release Powerplant. The duo are experts at penning folk-punk tracks that tell short, bittersweet stories – and with a few extra members, their songs are catapulted to the next level in terms of sound quality and overall vibe. Early’s Pavement-esque guitar twangs echo around the room in ‘Corner Store’;  ‘I Like That You Can See It’ showcases the founders’ ability to harmonise, Tucker a higher pitch than Tividad and their yelps all the more haunting.

It’s a close atmosphere the five have created in Gorilla tonight; the venue may not be full, but it’s full of those devoted. Hearing repeated screams of “we love you Girlpool!” throughout ‘Sleepless’, it’s evident that Tucker and Tividad’s lyrics truly resonate with the crowd. Like Medford, their onstage persona is once again particularly endearing. “I ordered a coffee in London and told the guy he looked like a character out of Dunkirk. He said he hadn’t seen it and it was really awkward” Tividad drawls to laughs and cheers. The quintet’s multi-instrumentalist talent also shouldn’t be ignored – Sushman takes a break from synth to whack out a saxophone as Tucker and Tividad regularly swap between bass and guitar. And can you get any more rock-and-roll than onstage shots of coffee?

With the rest of the band exiting the stage, Girlpool end the show exactly how they started all those years ago – just the pair of them. ‘Ideal World’ is particularly poignant, opener of 2015’s Before the World Was Big that sends a collective shiver down the crowd’s spine.  As ‘Static Somewhere’ draws the night to a blissful end with a mass sing-a-long, it’s clear that Girlpool are pivotal in redefining the folk-punk scene. Love them on record? Just wait until you see them live.


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