Gig review: Dry Cleaning at Leeds University Stylus

Dry Cleaning. Picture: Guy BolongaroDry Cleaning. Picture: Guy Bolongaro
Dry Cleaning. Picture: Guy Bolongaro
Spoken word is likely not what comes to mind when we think of rock ’n’ roll, but London quartet Dry Cleaning have consistently shown otherwise.

Currently on the UK leg of their Stumpwork tour, their unique take on the post-punk genre was welcomed with open arms by those attending their gig at Leeds University Union’s Stylus.

Playing a selection of wry, deadpan yet deliciously infectious tracks from their previous two records New Long Leg and Stumpwork, Dry Cleaning’s live show makes for interesting viewing, whether down to the peculiar nature of their music, or that of their band members.

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Lead cut on their debut record and fan favourite Scratchcard Lanyard is played surprisingly early on in their set, with bassist Lewis Maynard’s opening bass slap met with a roar from the melting pot crowd.

The same is to be said for 2022 single Gary Ashby, another slice of deadpan heaven that hears frontwoman Florence Shaw long to find her missing tortoise. The tune leads into a brief intermission from Shawn who tells the crowd: “Someone sent us an Instagram thing saying ‘RIP Gary’, assuming that he’s dead. It was upsetting”.

All band members exhibit their own flavour of weirdness, with Maynard showcasing impressive hairography, while guitarist Tom Dowse appears to enter another dimension as he slides up the frets of his guitar. Yet, it’s Shaw that is creating the magic. She is animated and expressive, yet still encompasses the deadpan feel of the music.

Playing one of the bands earlier tracks, Viking Hair, Shaw proves herself to be a master of spoken word, accounting lyrics that are seemingly affectionate, yet comes across almost impassive due to her talent for maintaining a monotone, stoic vocal.

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Despite almost deliberately portraying a lack-lustre and vacant composure, Shaw and her band still manage to keep the energy at an all-time high. Leaving with two tracks from the previous record, Liberty Log and Anna Calls from The Arctic.

Witty and observant lyricism blended with infectious post-punk mastery, the London outfit’s live show brings the unique nature of their music to life, and judging by the reaction of this Yorkshire crowd, they have done a more than sterling job.

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