Sleater Kinney, gig review: Their first UK show in nine years – but a powerhouse of a performance

6 Music Festival, O2 Academy, Newcastle

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The Independent Culture

Sleater Kinney’s first UK performance in nearly a decade is met with a palpable sense of anticipation in the crowd at the BBC's 6 Music Festival; "marry me!" a fan screams, before the band have even played a note.

They're doing their best to live up to the hype, with all the new material sounding crisp and fresh. Opening number "Price Tag" is loaded with snappy guitar crunches that blend with irresistible  pop melodies.  Corin Tucker’s unique voice surges powerfully alongside Carrie Brownstein's dramatic vocals. Combined with drummer Janet Weiss’ intense clatter they present a truly incendiary force.

The three-piece have recently expanded to a four-piece, with Katie Harkin (Sky Larkin, Wild Beasts) on additional guitar and keyboards and her inclusion adds extra guitar clout as well an extra depth of vocal tone. As older material is played, such as "One Beat",  "Jumpers" and a tender "Modern Girl”" it becomes clear how strong the new album No Cities to Love is, as it easily slots alongside the back catalogue. The closing finale of "Dig Me Out" and "Entertain" is rousing as they bow out in a ferocious, screeching ball of noise.

Although some rustiness might be forgiveable, considering their time away from live gigs, it's an incredibly taught performance. Every guitar note feels vital to the overall composition, every drum pound  –  be it primitive or complex – seems considered and essential. Tonight Sleater Kinney are all muscle and no flab – a powerhouse of a performance. 

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