PINS, Peace and Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali, Scarlet, Pink Kink: O2 Academy, Liverpool



With PINS rolling in to town for the first time since their appearance at Mythopoeia at The Kazimier, Getintothis’ Jake Marley enjoys a carefully curated EVOL billing.

How many times have you gone along to a gig, watched the supports (even that’s a challenge for some), and thought the lineup had just been bunged together. Sadly that is often the case in the live music world with promoters and venues more interested in ticket sales than the output quality of the artists on stage and the experience of those in attendance. Thankfully that wasn’t the case here, so big props to EVOL for putting together a bill where each act complimented both the one they followed and the one they preceded.

The tone for the night was set early on. Liverpool’s increasingly popular tropicália, art-poppers Pink Kink cut the tape with their unique brand of varied pop-punk and quite literally everything arty in-between. The LIPA group still hold a mysterious edge with their empty online tune-bank. In an increasingly reliant digital age there’s a beautiful feeling airing around each and every Pink Kink live show these days, a feeling that what you’re witnessing will never quite be the same again and can’t be seen anywhere else.

It’s frankly impossible to not have a smile upon your face and dance around in some form when watching this quintet perform. Quite simply pop at its most delicious, juicy, adorable best. Furry, colourful and as sassy as they come, by the close of their lush yet enthusiastically shouty set, the 02 Academy had been shook up like a fruity cocktail of happiness.

Scarlet followed up in their perfect place. Manchester formed but Liverpool based, a sort of middle-point between Liverpool’s Pink Kink and Manchester’s PINS and their tour support Peace and Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali. Feisty, punchy pop-punk and all it stands for. Single Anyway is as majestically radio-friendly as they come. It’s ferocious beauty, led by the enthusiasm and sweet charm of front-woman Jessie Robinson infectiously caught the eyes and ears of the O2 Academy Crowd.

Jessie and co. also served up several snippets of new music from sessions over the last year or so, which unless you caught them supporting Black Honey late last year or at FestEvol at The Kazimier, you probably wouldn’t have heard yet. The swirling echoes of neo-gazer Your Control stood out in particular for a band still making the transition from five-piece to four-piece.

PINS’ tour support Peace and Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali turned things up a further notch. Not only are they a contender for best named band in the country but they’re certainly a captivating bunch. Gloriously loud, gnarly and dark. Distinctive rebel garage-rock with both psychedelic and dark-synth qualities. Reverb heavy, riff-tastic newbie Mean Like a Snake is relentless and striking. Lead singer Mark holds the guitar like a machine gun and points it out the crowd in quirky fashion while snarling out lyrics on fuzz-filled Rope and Pretend to Try, two tracks that aptly embody the innovation and variety of their music.

Live sets often bring out the best in bands, you can truly connect with the music and get a sense for what a band is about. That said, PALBMA fill their live performance with raw energy, the direct opposite to most bands who flail around on stage practically begging for attention. The Manc-quartet instead stand frozen allowing only their frontman to strut around the stage, subtly allowing their music to do the talking.

The stage then had been set perfectly for PINS. A line-up that built intensity throughout the night and a crowd either still enchanted by the almost trance like gloom synth echoing from PALBMA’s set closer or gunned down by the machine gun guitar movements of the sassy frontman who’d just left the stage.

Bella Union’s PINS took to the stage like a well-oiled machine. It’s no surprise this quintet have churned out a few records on the cult indie-label as well as heavy touring commitments over the last few years. Faith Vern led the peroxide glitter fest, stripped down to pure post-punk dynamics, happily at home in their ultra-tight on-stage environment. Old favourites such as the ferocious LUVU4LYF held the set together amongst bursts of hypnotic energy from latest record Wild Nights.

PINS last played Liverpool as part of Stealing Sheep’s Mythopeoia event at The Kazimier and went down a storm but the dark under crust of their kooky on-stage antics and shimmery melodies won the O2 Academy crowd over in a flash and as the crowd sauntered out of the venue, there was a triumphant buzz in the air, everyone knew tonight they’d witnessed four bands who although at varying stages in their careers, all share the growing vibe that Northern music is kicking back in 2016, big time.

Pictures by Getintothis’ Keith Ainsworth.