“Hallelujah! How are y’all doing Manchester – are you ready for this?” grins vocalist Jared Swilley, as a mass of toilet roll spews down from the balconies to drown the sweaty crowd below.
Think of every Southern American stereotype you can, and the Black Lips probably meet it. Drawling accents? Check. Bolo ties? You bet. Georgia’s most frenzied garage-rock quintet are smack bang in the middle of tonight’s lineup, slotted post-Pins and pre-The Moonlandingz in a lineup that’s definitely one November’s strongest. Since their formation in 1999, the Black Lips have earned a reputation for delivering moonshine-tinted rock wrapped up in a raucous live show – and nearly twenty years on, it seems like nothing’s changed.
Opener ‘Sea Of Blasphemy’, from 2005’s Let It Bloom, features a walking bass so country it could be Johnny Cash; it’s cowboy hats all around as the powerful chorus of Arabia Mountain’s Modern Art smacks into the room. ‘Stone Cold’, too, is an oldie from the band’s 2003 eponymous debut that goes down an absolute storm, guitarist Cole Alexander shredding above his head as drummer Oakley Munson crashes on. The crowd are hungry for rockabilly riffs and the recurring bass thumps, with the room bursting to the brim even before the set gets properly going.
Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? is referred to by many as one of 2017’s top albums – and live, it’s easy to see why. The yelps of ‘Can’t Hold On’ whip the already-soaked audience into a frenzy, the band drowning in sweat themselves. Their vocals are raw; their riffs are even rawer. The five have undeniably created an atmosphere of truly electric proportions.
Tonight’s an energetic performance that screams expertise. The Black Lips know what they’re doing – and they do it fucking well. The Southern charm of the Atlanta outfit has certainly won over the hearts of Manchester – and judging by the rapturous applause as they exit stage, it’s evident that the city can’t wait for their return.