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29th February 2020

Live Review: Dry Cleaning at Gullivers

Harry Thorfinn reviews Dry Cleaning at their Manchester gig, noting exceptional lyricism from such a young band
Live Review: Dry Cleaning at Gullivers
Photo: Press shot by Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

I was not expecting to see Dry Cleaning on the evening of Wednesday 19th, but when the opportunity arose, I jumped at it. With two excellent EPs out on It’s OK records, Sweet Princess in 2018, followed up by Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks in August of last year, it felt like an exciting time to see this South-London post-punk band. Dry Cleaning, as the name would suggest, are a band that revel in the mundane. Florence Shaw’s lyrics intertwine the personal (“I can’t believe how fast my hair grew out”) with the general (“Do you believe hard work is what it takes to be successful?”), creating funny but often bleak depictions of the everyday.

An entire dissertation could be written dissecting Shaw’s lyrics, probably using phrases such as “the alienation of post-modern society.” Instead, I’ll just mention a few favourites: “followed by another porn account on Instagram” she deadpans on ‘Conversation,’ or when she repeats “I’ve joined a gym/ I’ve joined a gym close to the office” four times on ‘Dog Proposals’.

Supporting act Pozi were on first. A three-piece consisting of bass, drums and violin, it sounded a bit gimmicky on paper, but they were a pleasant surprise. They were particularly interesting when the violin was treated as a tool for creating weird, abrasive sounds.

When Dry Cleaning came on they wasted little time, swiftly opening with ‘Spoils’ which begins on the great opening line: “I’m cool with spoils/ just tell me who dies/ tell me who finds love”. The band were excellent, but Shaw was particularly captivating. Staring off into the distance gripping her mic stand, it felt as if the lyrics were coming to her there and then whilst the band just happened to be playing behind her.

Photo: Harry Thorfinn @ The Mancunion

Over the course of the night, Dry Cleaning got through most of their discography. The jangly ‘Dog Proposals’ from their new EP sounded great, as did fan favourites ‘Goodnight’ and ‘Magic of Meghan’, a sort of ode to Meghan Markle. They also debuted a new track called ‘Unsmart Lady’ which sounded promising.

Watching Dry Cleaning live was a lot of like listening to them through headphones, once in a while cracking a smile as you notice a lyric you previously missed. The phrase “Chicken Burger Pizza” suddenly stands out for some reason.

There was a great moment towards the end of the show when Shaw mentioned that there was merch at the back but that they only take cash. The bassist chirped in that they in fact do take credit cards now. “Woo credit cards!” Shaw said, which warranted a “waaay” from the audience. After an hour of hearing about how dismal modern life can be, ironically cheering for credit cards felt like a natural conclusion.

This was the first night of a tour which has already sold out in many places. If you get a chance to see them, I would highly recommend you do so.


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