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Liverpool John Moores University
18 September 2010

Black Soul Strangers

Dublin's Black Soul Strangers have been receiving much media attention. With Janice Long making the latest single, 'The Haunting' record of the week and others providing quotable quotes of distinction, it indeed looks like “it's about to happen” according to enigmatic manager, Nic Georgiou who greeted me on arrival.

On this rainy night in Liverpool, many people had opted for Horlicks and a late film so - not in the best of spirits - I settled into my comfy leather armchair (yes it was a comfy leather armchair) to see what the fuss was about.

The band hit the stage at the witching hour after some other bands plied their troth, the best of which was Blackburn's 'Revolter' who reminded me at times of the Foo Fighters, their melodic tunes merging with a metallic underbelly.

Black Soul Strangers

Visually BSS are interesting. Dressed inevitably in black, their poise is a cross between Joy Division and The Stranglers. Browsing the interweb, I saw some comparisons with Coldplay but I quickly and gratefully displaced my preconceptions once the opener, 'Witchita' was set in motion. (Why is it anyone with a sense of melodic progression has to be compared to Coldplay?)

This is an intriguing outfit and don't fit into anyone's convenient pigeon hole. I particularly enjoyed Phil Wyer's harmonic guitar technique which supplies the ethereal drift in songs like 'The Haunting,' 'Monster' 'Panic Sets Direction,' all from the bands album 'Animate.'

The more brutal sections catch you unawares and I was slung from the comfort of my journalistic throne by the absolute drive of 'Lies' with front man, Barry Gorey letting rip with his aggressive stage antics which belie his boy band looks.

Black Soul Strangers

This is a band to savour. It's a crafty combination of Eno type thoughtfulness and musicianship with a grittiness from the late punk era.

Indeed after the final stormer, 'You Don't Need It' had died down, I was left wanting more. And that's the greatest garland you could lay at the feet of any new kids on the block. It's a jungle out there and even with friends, you also need allies.

Many of our readers are die hard rockers, but if you want to strike out a bit with something left of centre, I would strongly recommend you check Black Soul Strangers out live or on record.

Review and photos by Keith Thompson

Keith presents 'Rockwaves' on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 21:00 More information

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