Blood Red Shoes – Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton – 11th December 2018

Photo by Joe Boothby

This was a night of mixed emotions. On the plus side, the Brighton-formed Blood Red Shoes are back in action, following a near split, and with a new album due for release in the new year. The dynamic duo of Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell are roaring back into life. However, for Sticky Mike’s, the flame is shortly to be extinguished, this coming New Year’s Eve, to be exact. It will be the end of a long road (barring some miracle of re-birth) for the venue that has been a multitude of incarnations since the 90s. Blood Red Shoes became alerted to its imminent closure and decided that they wanted to be a part of the tearful farewell, quickly organising this show.

Sold out, and with many a long term fan in attendance, this was a show that, for the most part, concentrated on their back catalogue; the singles they released, stretching back to 2005, including their second ever single ‘Stitch Me Back’, which now sounds particularly raw and punky in its youthful energy. There were also showings from ‘A.D.H.D’, ‘Cold’, ‘I Wish I Was Someone Better’,’Don’t Ask’, ‘An Animal’, and perhaps their best known song, the homage of sorts to Brighton, ‘It’s Getting Boring By The Sea’. It was written when they were getting a little fed up with this city, but which they still obviously love, particularly for Steven, who continues to make Brighton his home.

Towards the end, they invite their new bandmates on stage, in the form of Hannah Thurlow on bass, and Adam (aka Clarence Clarity) on keys/synths, who are now a part of their live project. Indeed, this is only the second time they have played together as a four-piece, as they showcase some new songs from the forthcoming album, Get Tragic. These include the typically loud and chugging ‘Mexican Dress’, as well as songs that display a newer direction for the band; the deep synth doom indie of ‘Eye To Eye’, and the burbling synth meets punk-funk of ‘Howl’. While there is a new maturity and eclecticism to Blood Red Shoes, they still make short and sharp bursts of raucous and thrillingly electric sounds, that work a treat within the very low-ceiling environment of Sticky Mike’s.

Looking throughout like they are thoroughly enjoying rocking out again, Ansell dedicates songs to the venue during the course of the evening, revelling in the hot and, er, sticky atmosphere, generated by their ferocious barrage of hi-octane indie-punk – always high on melody and classic pop structures – claiming that they ‘always loved this place’, as performers, but perhaps more importantly, as punters themselves. This will also be most likely the last show I attend at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar. While I won’t necessarily miss the rather difficult sight lines, and the fact the toilets are literally within the upstairs bar itself, it is a blow to the live music scene in Brighton, and will be fondly remembered by many.

Jeff Hemmings