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Live / stage review

Fat White Family, 9 May, Leadmill

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A papier-mache pig's head sets the scene, its demonic grinning face illuminating the hollow of the bass drum. We stand, sipping cans of Red Stripe, waiting for the band to come out.

Fat White Family are known for their onstage antics. Rumours circulate about lead singer Lias Saoudi urinating on crowds, or spitting at them, or trying to fight them. It all seems much more plausible when you see the band take the stage, their infectious charisma spreading through the venue like influenza-induced delirium.

a fever dream of images and sounds

Within minutes Lias is halfway into the crowd, standing over them, staring them down, his head completely shaved except for a lank tail of dark hair where his skull meets the back of his neck. The mosh pits and the smoke machines start, and the rest is a fever dream of images and sounds that my brain has only just cobbled together.

Donning my reviewer's goggles, retrospectively of course, it's worth noting that although this current tour is to promote new album Serfs Up!, the band do a good job of integrating new songs with the old, constructing a set that is both familiar and refreshing. Some of the songs - particularly new ones, which tend to be a little more ambient - are injected with extra energy to fit the overall vibe. It could be argued they're moulded into something they aren't supposed to be, but that's a fairly universal problem when it comes to live bands with varied discographies.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try as a writer to remain cool and observant, it's impossible not to get swept up by the atmosphere of a gig and find that your critical faculties have been essentially fucked. But could that be anything other than a compliment?

Liam Casey

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