Celebrating their second 40th anniversary following last year’s ‘Epic Garden Music’ show, the gothic post-punk band moved their attentions to ‘Feeding The Flame’, performing the 1983 studio album in full following a set of selected material from their wider catalogue. They chose to remain with the current members on this occasion with a line-up formed of Garce Allard (vocals, guitar, percussion), Tony McGuinness (guitar), Nigel Pollard (drums), Ian Gibson (bass), Will Hicks (keyboards) and newer member, Jack Dawkins (saxophone).

After opening on ‘Alice (Isn’t Playing)’ with its gothic synthscapes, they included more rarely played tracks such as the tribal drumbeats of ‘Jungle of Lies’ which appears on 1991’s ‘Treehouse Poetry’ and ‘Siren’, with ghostly, high pitched synth wails, from the band’s latest album, ‘Mission Creep’.

SL&G also showcased their newest material in the way of 2020 single ‘Asylum Town’, which Garce said was about Gloucester; it would have benefitted from more amplification on the guitar, however, the strong vocals made up for this. A surprise to the setlist arrived in the form of ‘Sex Without Gravity’, from a John Peel session recorded by the band in 1981: a demented ‘Looney Tunes’ guitar and saxophone duet, which once again could have pushed the guitar to prevent it becoming tangled with the superb saxophone free radicals.

The guitar parts in ‘Paradise’ were finally liberated with the band finishing their first set on the uplifting magic of ‘Imagination’ which, unlike much of the set being perfectly replicated in its pristine form, varied from the recorded version and its previous live performances in softer keyboard and McGuinness’ backing vocals.

Following a short interval, SL&G returned to embark on their second set of the night, ‘Feeding The Flame’ performed in its entirety in track order, featuring stand out songs such as ‘Big Tracks Little Tracks’, which takes inspiration from Joy Division and contained spidery guitar with newly added free jazz saxophonics; the synth atmospherics and dancing guitar of ‘Another Day’, the clattering drums of should-have-been-a-single ‘Sleep (Is For Everyone)’; the spidery hallucinogenics of ‘Vendetta’; the album and fourth single ‘Man of Straw’ – vocally disappointingly not a shade on the recorded version but instrumentally a good attempt at the chaos – and Peel’s favourite, ‘In Flux’.

After completing the tracklist, the band played a four-song encore, which saw them premier a new song from their forthcoming album, entitled ‘Awoken’ – although sounding similar to single ‘Asylum Town’ – and their classic 1982 second single, ‘Colourless Dream’.

21/05/23: Sad Lovers & Giants @ The Lexington, London.

Photos © Ayisha Khan.

© Ayisha Khan.