The Hipshakes

The Hipshakes


To be able to see two bands of such high calibre playing for free in a pub says a lot for the quality of the music scene in Manchester in 2016. Having seen both these bands previously at venues spanning my twin hometowns of Sheffield and Manchester, for the two to feature on the same bill in a CAMRA Pub of the Year seemed perfect for a Sunday night.

Dirty Heels kick off impressively as ever with the three piece making punchy blues rock putting you in the mind of similarly lowly populated outfits The White Stripes and Drenge. The set motors with powerful bass and drums that roll alongside a vocal display that rivals the distorted guitar for which can achieve the most powerful lead performance. The trio have described their music as ‘muscular’ which is the perfect way to describe their sound, a wall of noise penetrated by flashes of virtuoso blues guitar solos which makes for an impressive mix of the ramshackle and the polished. Not many bands are building on established blues rock convention as well as Dirty Heels are and hopefully there’s more to come from these three.

The Hipshakes are still writing up their setlist at the bar five minutes before going on stage for what is a riotous journey back to early punk of the mid 1970’s. The Buzzcocks, Eater and Wire are obvious comparisons but The Hipshakes can’t help but put you in mind of these band’s frenetic urgency and strained vocals. Frontman Andrew Anderson’s whirling dervish performance is as entertaining as ever, complete with his lyrical charades, acting out the words as they’re sung. The rest of the band are equally enthusiastic with drummer Bruce putting in a shift on skins, backing vocals and for two songs, lead vocals. The songs are unashamedly indebted to the canonical punk bands of the 70’s, the band are infectiously energetic and the set passes by in a blur. It’s heartening to see such a raw performance that is backed up by a genuinely diverse range of songs despite The Hipshakes relatively enormous back catalogue, their first full length being released back in 2007. By the end, I’m itching to dig out my inherited Live at the Roxy vinyl in order to appreciate the genre’s staying power and influence that it still clearly exerts over the contemporary landscape.

Amongst the sonic waves of dream pop and shoegaze that currently pervade the new release sections of record shops it’s refreshing to cut through this every now and again with a slice of punk adrenaline. As long as we have bands like The Hipshakes and Dirty Heels we retain this ability to get back to the animalistic experience of punk, and not get too caught up in semantics.

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Matthew Bellingham

As an English Literature student it seemed almost a prerequisite that I should pursue some form of writing, so apologies for any undergraduate pretentiousness that is detected. I try to catch concerts in both my hometown of Manchester and my adopted University hometown of Sheffield. I started regularly attending gigs as recently as 2015, and since then have continued to turn up as frequently as possible. Personal highlights include Horsebeach's debut Manchester show and Eagulls' gig at the Broomhall Centre in Sheffield.