Liverpool Leaf Cafe
3rd March 2018
Reviewed by Rob Harrison
The Handsome Family are a boy and girl band with a difference, they would rather sing murder ballads, and songs about freaky events, than about being in love or warble yet another tune about heartbreak. so,we can definitely file these guys under American gothic then.
Their repertoire includes songs about Robert Wadlow, an American giant who just so happened to be the tallest man in the world, and other weird tales drawn from the lyrical imagination of Rennie Sparks.
They live in Mexico now but originally hailed from Chicago. During the set they play a rather strange song about the place, which includes someone falling down a well. But I think it’s a reference to the subterranean culture which exists there, when you can’t go out for about 3 months of the year. Well you can but you will probably freeze to death.
For this show the band play all of the new album, which is a genuine artistic gesture, but the album tends to be a bit slow, lacking the necessary highs and lows to sustain a live audience.
As a consequence of this the drums tend to plod through the proceedings rather than give the songs some space to breath. where’s Ringo when you need him, I think to myself.
But to be honest the sound is not brilliant, so perhaps this doesn’t help matters.
But still the material shines through, and the poetry of Rennies lyrics cuts through the dense reverb driven tunes.
The set finishes and The Handsome Family return to play a few more songs.
As I mentioned before they decided on this occasion to play all the new album, which is slightly downbeat.
As an encore they play material from their back catalogue and the whole gig really lifts off, as we veer into jazzy moments on the guitar. After finishing a particularly good guitar solo the audience cheers and perhaps we can detect a slight smile behind the hipster beard of Brett Sparks the guitarist .
So overall a good gig. They have a massive back catalogue, so I will be checking that out in the near future no doubt.