There are conversations heard daily (and nightly), up and down the country about people having an eclectic taste in music and “liking a bit of everything” (something I am guilty of myself), but She Drew The Gun’s performance on Wednesday night at the Portland, reminded me of why. Playing to a sold-out crowd the Liverpool-based band took the audience through a variation of styles and themes, in a whistle-stop tour of melodic pop, political vim and indie vibes.
A word (or two) at this point for the support, Man & The Echo. The 4-piece formed in Warrington came out to a near silent Cambridge crowd and managed to get a response from them. If you attend gigs in Cambridge you know that being a support act at a night where the majority are just there for the main band can be a thankless task but they really stepped up to the plate. The frontman’s witty retort between songs and dry humour forced the stiff Cambridge crowd into a response of (initial) nervous laughter, but really set the tone and by the end of their set people’s feet were tapping and heads were nodding. This is not to say they were gimmicky in the slightest – their song A Capable Man has made it onto 6 Music’s playlist this week and the current single melds a number of styles – bits of Everything Everything, Cribs, Sleaford Mods and Modest Mouse, maybe best just to listen for yourself because I might be way off… All I’m saying is, it’s fucking good.
On to the main event, the compact Portland was now bursting at the seams in anticipation – SDTG were imminent and their slick visuals were the backdrop to the empty stage. There is a great feeling of excitement waiting for a band at the Portland – you’re so close to the stage you feel that you’re involved with the changeover and can feel the tension growing. As soon as Louisa Roach and the band took to the stage you knew we were in for a treat – the visuals which were spectacular throughout without being distracting, kicked in, and we were off.
The opening gambit of mine about eclectic taste and variation was really apparent through the entirety of this gig (both support and main act) and part of the beauty of a gig like this is you never know what’s coming next. Some of the sounds, in songs like Something For The Pain, harked back to the era of peace and love, a 60s base with light, evocative lyrics. On the flipside we had spoken word and poetry with a sharp, relevant political edge which really brought it back to where we are right now (“The Death Star is growing and pretty soon I think we’re all going to need lightsabres”), and that without being a protest band, this band care and wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Speaking to a couple of people who’d travelled up from Stevenage outside after the gig, it struck me that the night was maybe even better than I’d given it credit for. The setting of the Portland Arms was perfect for the journey that the two bands took us on – an ever-changing, flowing gig that brought together a frankly mad mix of people. Even a broken string halfway through SDTG’s set did not break the momentum, it just further endeared the crowd to this tight, sharp band, whose future incidentally, is looking pretty big and very bright. Keep on keeping on.
Words: Jack Swindlehurst
Images: Valerio Berdini