March 28 Having lost founding member Kelley Anderson just one month prior to their debut European tour, you might expect Tennessean exports Those Darlins to be a little shaky on their first show with a stand-in bassist in tow. Not so. There were a few nerves at first, meaning that lead-off song ‘Screws Get Loose’ (the title track of their most recent album) sadly lacked the swagger it would have had if it had appeared later in the set, but these soon dissipated as frontwomen Jessi and Nikki Darlin assumed total control of the stage.
Looking every inch the rockstar in a Dr. Frank-N-Furter-esque unitard, Jessi performs as though she’s taken the character’s “Don’t dream it, be it” maxim to heart; her presence is magnetic. Curling her lips into a snarl and throwing wide her eyes to deliver an unhinged, possibly maniacal stare, she’s sometimes just an Elvis-style hip swivel away from slipping into caricature but it works. Those Darlins’ country-spliced garage-rock might not offer a great deal of musical variety when stripped of studio enhancements – even drummer Linwood Regensburg’s voice sounds uncannily like Jessi’s tonight – but their live show is all about maximising the fun as the band tear through a generous eighteen songs.
Most of the highlights came from Screws Get Loose (the eerie ‘Mystic Mind’, the sassy ‘Be Your Bro’ and ‘Fatty Needs A Fix’, which Jessi somewhat uncomfortably dedicated to two girls at the side of the stage) but main set closer ‘Funstix Party’, from last year’s 7″ split with hometown ‘supergroup’ Funstix (who count Jessi and Linwood as members), absolutely stole the show with a riot of filthy rock ‘n’ roll fun with Jessi jumping down into the crowd and insisting that they dance. With moves like hers, who could resist?
Screws Get Loose / Hives / Bumd / Untitled new song / Prank Call / Waste Away / Mystic Mind / Wild In The Streets (Garland Jeffreys cover) / Night Jogger / Burn Me Up / Pet You & Hold You (Rockpile cover) / Be Your Bro / Fatty Needs A Fix / Red Light Love / Untitled new song / Funstix Party (Funstix cover) / $ / Lonesome Cowboy Bill (Velvet Underground cover)
Photographed by Alan Pedder