Live Music + Gig Reviews

Black Lips @ Windmill, London

26 February 2007

Black LipsMichael Jackson had the Moonwalk. Slash had the guitar solo on top of the grand piano. Cole Alexander, erstwhile bonkers front man of Atlanta’s Black Lips, shoots a ball of phlegm a foot above himself and catches it.

Welcome to the mayhem of a Black Lips show. Tonight is the first of six shows in the capital in almost as many days. Across the pond they’ve been raved about for crazy live shows, the most extreme involving human excrement and torching of percussion equipment.

Thankfully there’s none of that this evening. The shack that is the Brixton Windmill is a fitting venue for tonight. Journey past the five accosting crack dealers, endless takeaways and estate undergoing regeneration, you chance upon a stop that could be the last port of call on the very edge of the inhabited world. The lighting is poorly and the stage is a corner of a shithole fuddled in murk and even poorer lighting. Its dirty and the beer is cheap – its the Black Lips’ kind of place

Their albums are terribly recorded, a clash of bad sound levels, drunken punk and rockabilly. It’s straight out of the school of The Bronx – fun, filthy and a glorified mess. Jared Swilley looks higher than Pete Doherty in a Thai opium den, and his smile reveals four silver teeth. You can imagine how he lost them.

The garage clatter of Sea of Blasphemy brings to mind The Stooges. the sick blues drag of Boomerang is almost as dirty as the floor they’re scrapping around on. Upcoming single Not A Problem blends whirly Velvets psychedelia with fine melodic US punk, while its double A-side compadre Dirty Hands is a beery ragtag of a ballad that sounds like the sort of thing Frank Black would sing if he drank cocktails of Red Bull and LSD for five hours.

But who needs hallucinogenics or stimulants? You can take a safe trip into the deranged vortex of the Black Lips that’ll leave your medulla oblongata fully intact, if a little shaken up.

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